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Becoming a Better Writer: There's Always Room for Improvement, Even for the Experts!


Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.

Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.

-Stephen King

            I’m often asked by aspiring writers how they can improve their writing skills. Even the most expert writers out there are constantly striving to improve their craft, so it’s a great idea to develop some productive habits that keep you inspired and keep your words flowing. While my tips might seem obvious to select readers, I guarantee that these are some of the most productive and inspiring habits that any author can develop. And even for those veteran writers among us, we may still struggle to maintain these regular habits—I know I do—but I guarantee that you’ll be able to tell the difference, and it will make a difference in your continued growth as a writer.

Here are my fail-safe tips for improving your writingBecome a Better Writer... 5 Ways to Improve Your Writing-Read, read, read. This may seem logical to some of you, but many fail to make the connection between being an avid reader and a talented writer. I guarantee that if you ask any published author out there what inspired them to start writing, they will respond with a book title or author name as their source of inspiration. So, if reading was your initial motivation to become a writer, then wouldn’t it make sense to continue this habit? Yet, for many of us, our lives get too busy and the first thing that falls to the wayside is reading for pleasure. So don’t think of it as pleasure; think of it as part of your job—to become a published, renowned author, you need to set aside at least an hour each day to read. Whether you’re like me and you can spend your breakfast and lunch hours reading your novel of choice for the week (or month), or you can sneak in 30 minutes to read a couple articles in your favourite magazine before bed, do what works best for you. Read whatever interests you. Read a variety of media and genres, from a short story on an e-zine, to a verse by your favourite poet, an article in the New York Times, or your favourite novelist’s newly released book. Whether or not you are consciously paying attention to writing style and technique, you will absorb more than you realize on a subconscious level, and you’ll be expanding your vocabulary at the same time.

Blog. No matter what type of writing you’re into—from academic scholarship to experimental creative writing to nonfiction—a blog is the perfect outlet for your “overflow” writing, so to speak. Let’s be honest, even if you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, you can’t publish every single line that you write. But you need to write constantly to keep your creative juices flowing and weed through the filler to find the diamond in the rough hidden amongst the weeds. What better way to keep your thoughts and ideas flowing than to keep a blog?! The beauty of a blog is that anyone can do it, it’s free, and it can be about anything, with any approach that you can dream up. While I’ve found that a professional blog is a rewarding outlet for myself, I have writer friends obsessed with fashion, or animation, or travel who have built a blog around these things – whatever it is in life that they love. Think of a blog as an informal journal, a place to deposit your thoughts and ideas without having to polish them too much or edit them for formal publication. And, best of all, once you build up some followers, you’ll get free feedback and criticism to help you keep improving your craft!

-Tweet, Tumblr, and Facebook. I never thought I’d hear myself saying this, but make the most of social media. You have no idea how many great writing tips and inspirational stories I’ve come across through a Twitter or Tumblr post. Sometimes it’s just a one-line inspirational quote that sparks an idea for me, and other times I get involved in a thought-provoking exchange with my followers that plants the seed for a story or article that I will pick up a few days later. Instead of seeing social media as an enemy to the literary domain, embrace it. It will only shorten your attention span or decrease your intelligence (as some people claim) if you let it. Be smart about your social media interaction and you will reap the rewards.

Writing Improvement Workshop: Become a Better Writer... 5 Ways to Improve Your Writing

-Stay informed. This relates to social media and reading also. Stay up on the news. Know what’s going on in your local community and in the world. This doesn’t mean that you have to watch CNN or listen to KPBS radio constantly. Seek out sources of news that relate to your passion—an international art blog that keeps you informed on the newest and brightest talent, or a local literary journal or magazine that keeps you up to date on poetry readings and author visits around town. The more you engage and interact with the world in ways that interest you, the more inspired you’ll be, and the easier your words will flow.   

Write diversely. This might sound funny, but what I mean here is to challenge yourself, not just to write within the genre that you are most comfortable with. If you see yourself as a nonfiction writer, make a point of writing a fictional piece every once in a while, or trying your hand at a free verse poem instead of writing another autobiographical essay. Or consider writing a book review of that novel you just finished, or penning a letter to the editor in response to a controversial news piece you just read in the local newspaper. Exposing yourself to a diversity of writing experiences will deepen your growth as a writer and promote more experimentation and mixing of genres and writing styles when you return to your writing comfort zone, whatever that may be.

Do you have more tips on how to continue improving your writing skills? I’d love to hear them! Feel free to email me directly with your ideas at

Keep Writing!

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