Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to Be a Better Writer: Today

My previous Sunday Specials (which can be found at the bottom of this post) all focused on the writing process. I understand how I work best, and I wanted to help you understand how you work best. Since it was me, the advice was also spooned out with humor and slight satire.

That is why when I was plotting my new Special blog series I wanted to do something serious. Seriously. I want to help you (and me) become better writers. Not tomorrow, not in six weeks, not in fifteen years from now, but WRITE now.

My How to Be a Better Writer series will consist of three Sunday blogs, all focusing on how you can be more gooder! (Snort) If you do it right, you will never stop improving as a writer. Every book I pen, every short story I force myself to type out, makes me better. That doesn’t mean you can’t get better today, because you can. Here is how:


1. Tell yourself you are going to write today—then do it. It can be anything. A blog on writing, your current wip, or even just the jotting down of a dream or what you did last night. Something, anything.

2. Learn a new word that means the same thing as another word you already use too much.

I hate reading manuscripts with the same word appearing over and over. As soon as I catch on it’s like witch nails on the chalkboard of my back.

Let me help, my new word is crux. Yes like from Harry Potter. It means essence, or soul, or the “most important part”.

3.Don’t let distractions distract you—for good. Stuff comes up. Some things in life can absolutely not be avoided. So take care of those things and sit back down and write. Sometimes it is easier to say once you have been distracted that you have already been interrupted, and it’s not worth it. It’s always worth. In the days where we all have kids, and jobs, and twitter, you should know that even if you only have five minutes, that will be five minutes you are wishing you had later.

4. Read something you didn’t write. That is longer than a Twitter of Facebook post. Again, it can be anything. A blog post (hopefully it’s one of mine), a magazine article. If you know me, you know that I am never with out a book to read for very long. Writers are readers, no exceptions.

5. Whatever you do, don’t quit early. I am a firm believer that teaching yourself habits, both good and bad, impact your writing in a major way. If you get stuck, and then stop, you are teaching yourself to quit when things get hard. That might not mean a lot of things to you now, but in the future when you might have deadlines, well what happens when you get stuck then?

If you think about writing as often as I do, you realize things. I think the number one way I can always improve me as a writer is to be more efficient at everything about it.

Need more Angela WRITE Now on writing? Check out all my post from the writing process demystified below.

#1 REM for your writing
#2 Oral Fixation
#3 To Tweet or To Not Tweet (That is the question)
#4 An inspirational post on inspiration

See you tomorrow, I am blogging about writing personalities.


Amanda Rudd said...

Great post with some great advice! As always. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome post Angela! Thanks for such great words of wisdom

Unknown said...

I haven't written in a few days and you've inspired me to do so. :)

Mandie Baxter said...

Love this post! Thanks for the tips! :) can't wait for the next.

jasonbeineke said...

Sadly, I am a professional procrastinator and it can take me weeks to get some work done. Despite this, everything continues to slosh around in my head, but that also helps me to work out scenes and lines of dialogue before committing them to digital paper. Also, mega agreement that the same word should not appear too frequently! One of the first things taught to me in speech class at university was to consciously delete the word "that" from papers and presentations. Finally, a good thesaurus or thesaurus website is a MUST!

R.M. Hepler said...

Great post. Hit me dead on mostly XD Easily distracted, stopping for years when hitting a difficult part in a novel (luckily I've managed to get rid of that habit for the most part) and I'm always reading, which is part of my distraction XD

Unknown said...

I try to follow all of these rules! I'm even getting better at some of them. Those pesky distractions...

Anonymous said...

I knew I'd have to go do something if I came and read this lol

Great Post! Thank you :) Off I go!

Karen said...

You ROCK! Excellent post! I've been thinking about learning a new word each day! Thank you for the specific focus!:) Also, love your new blog design! <3

Katie Lynn said...

COSIGNED. Perfect advice! About to go hard on my WIP now :D

Jolene Perry said...

I spend a lot of time walking and running which I use to map out my story. I swear that almost EVERY time I do, I come up with something new, a clever twist, or a personality quirk that I'd never thought of before.

I've also learned a ton from critiquing for other people.

Simply Harmony said...

Definitely great advice here. The best parts are #3 don't remain distracted, and #5 teaching habits both good and bad. Yes!

I couldn't agree with you more on #5 because as we all know bad habits are so easy to create but so very difficult to break. I'm just now getting out of my horrible habit of taking on too many projects at once and bouncing around between them just to never finish all of them. Yes, that project is a WIP too. haha :)

Anonymous said... best tip?
Don't put too much pressure on yourself. It can totally ruin the effect of everything else.
As for the new word thing, I'd recommend trying it out in life first, and seeing what it truly tastes like. If it is so obscure people go, "WHUT?" then probably not a good one to use often!

Carly Fall said...

Great advice!

Real Life (either that or a good book!) always seems to take away from my writing time. However, I do manage to write every day, even if it is for ten minutes.

Unknown said...

What a fabulous and INFORMATIVE blog you have!!! I love hearing the tidbits other writers can offer. You can learn so many new things that way!!

Nice to meet you!!! I'll definitely be back! Feel free to stop by Unedited to say hello! I'd love to have you!

Robert Adams said...

Most great advice is common sense, but somehow we tend to miss it. Then there are very helpful individuals such as yourself, who slap the common sense back into working order.

Thanks for this post!

S.P. Sipal said...

Learning what words you overuse is soooo important. "So" is one of my words. And just, and stepped, and smiled. And 100 others. Finding other words instead of these is important, like you say. I use Word's search to help me seek out and destroy these beasts! ;0

Melanie_McCullough said...

Great post, as always! Between your blog posts, your #writingatgunpoint Twitter threats, and your writing, you make me aspire to be a better writer every day.

Melinda S. Collins said...

I, for one, am one of those that uses a word too much (both in and out of writing)...luckily, I have a great husband and friend who catch and remind me of it. Now when that happens, I can take your tip and find another word that means the same.

Great post, Angela! I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of your posts in this series!