Millions of other bloggers and authors have written on this subject. For that, I am sorry. But from what I’ve gleaned they all appear to say the same thing: read more. Read and read and read. The more you read, the better you write. And just as important: write. Practice writing. Write at least an hour a day. Schedule a time every day to write. Get into a routine of writing. Make it happen. If you want to get good at something, you have to exercise, so write as often as you can. I’m simplifying here, but you get the point.
This post is not one of those posts.
Although reading and writing more can and does help improve writing, it’s not the only way, or the best way, to improve your craft.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step One: Put down that writing implement
Whether it be pencil or pen or typewriter or phone or tablet or computer, put it away. Stop writing. Just stop it, right now. This may sound counterintuitive, but bear with me.
Step Two: Go outside
Seriously, do it. Stand up, open the door, and go outside. I know the outside with its Sun and light and nature and elements can be scary as hell, but just try it.
Step Three: Do something besides write
This is the apex of all art: you have to do other things. As a writer, you can’t just write and write and write, and read, but do nothing else. How can you write about the smell of rain if you stay inside all the time thinking about the smell of rain but never actually smelling the rain when it pours? Or how can you find the right words to describe how it feels when you first think you might love someone, if you’ve never been twitterpated before? With what feels like a limitless conglomeration of words to choose from, how do you know which is the right one for the sense or feeling you want to get across? This goes for all writing. And all art. In order to create, you have to experience.
Step Four (kind of): Try other art forms
Step four is a continuation of Step Three. You don’t actually have to go outside, so for all those Heliophobes out there, fear not (but it sure is nice out there in the big open air). I have found one of the best ways for me to improve my writing is to try other forms of art, other forms of expression. What better way to re-think or re-see a character or scene or experience than by capturing it in a different medium? Whether painting or sculpture or sewing or jewelry making or carpentry or landscape design or film or photography, whatever you find that you love, spend some time on that. Let that art form influence and improve your writing. After all, that’s what writing is all about.
Improving yourself, your community, and hopefully this little blue marble.