Five Habits Preventing You From Becoming a Better Writer
Cultivating good writing habits is essential if you want to make your mark as a storyteller, book author, or freelance writer. Here are five habits that might be holding you back from being a better writer.
1. Using imprecise language. The first step to becoming a better writer is to use precise, concise language. Every word, sentence and paragraph should be written with the sole purpose of moving your idea forward. If something you’ve written doesn’t serve your overarching message, cut it out. Learning how to write using plain language is one way to keep your writing clean and uncluttered. After you’ve laid down your first draft using plain language, see if adding more descriptive will help you clarify your intent.
2. Not editing or reviewing your work on a regular basis. If you have a large body of work, such as a blog or a series of online articles, it pays to go back and review your work often. You are bound to spot spelling mistakes and typos if you do. Don’t worry; everyone makes mistakes. If you're a one-person publishing shop, it’s hard to see your own errors right after you've finished writing something.
In addition to finding mistakes in your work when you check it again. you may spot new opportunities to link an old article to a new article. You may notice a need to add supplementary information to your article. Or, perhaps you'll re-read an old piece of writing and feel inspired to write a new article that expands on a critical point you were trying to make. Frequent reviews of your work will help you to be a better writer.
If you're working on a bigger writing project, such as an e-book or traditionally published book, consider hiring a copy editor before you put your book on sale or submit your manuscript to a print publisher.
3. Reading junk material . If you want to be a better writer, then you need to be regularly reading print material that is at or above the standard of writing that you are striving for. Stop reading junk blogs, pulp fiction, or click-bait online content. If you want to strengthen your writing skills, reading literary non-fiction magazines such as Harper’s or The New Yorker . If you can’t afford to subscribe to some of these more expensive magazines, head to your local library and check out a stack of them. Your writing mind is like an organic machine. Feed it well. (Remember the old rule: garbage in = garbage out.)
4. Not treating your writing practice like a business. Even if making money as a writer is not one of your personal goals, it’s still important to take your writing practice seriously. Always maintain a professional attitude. Keep your writing projects organized. Maintain positive relationships with other writers. But the most important thing that you can do if you want to apply a business-minded approach to your writing is to get over your fear of self-promotion. You can’t be a successful writer if you keep your words all to yourself!
The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.— Unknown
5. Not celebrating your achievements. As a writer, it is important that you reward yourself and recognize your accomplishments. Unlike other careers, sometimes the pay-off as a writer doesn’t happen right away. Getting a book deal may not happen overnight. Increasing your blog readership takes time. It may be weeks, even months before anyone leaves a comment on your blog. Checking in on your progress and rewarding yourself when you reach writing milestones will keep you energized. You'll be motivated to follow through on the goals that you set for yourself.
Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconcious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.— Stephen Covey
© 2017 Sadie Holloway