Writing is a central and essential skill not only in academia, but in the professional and personal world as well. That said, becoming a great writer doesn’t happen overnight and many people work for years to master their craft. Thankfully, there are many things that anyone of any skill level can do to improve their aptitude for writing.
Whether you’re looking into an MFA program, dream of becoming a bestselling author, or simply want to become a better communicator, here are some easy tips anyone can follow to improve their writing skills.
Create a Daily Writing Ritual
The number one key to improving any skill is to practice, practice, practice. The more you apply yourself to a craft, the faster you will see notable improvement. When it comes to writing, creating a daily ritual can be a big step in the right direction.
A daily writing practice doesn’t have to be rigid or inflexible, but it should be based on a simple principle: Commit to writing something every single day. Whether you prefer to journal, are working on a long imagined idea for a novel, or want to try your hand at journaling, all forms of writing are great ways to see overall improvement.
To begin a daily writing ritual, set aside time each day without distractions to focus. Even 15 minutes in the morning or evening can make a big difference. Find a quiet room, or private space where you won’t run the risk of interruption and let the words flow.
A daily writing practice is just for you, so don’t find yourself preoccupied with the subjective quality of your work. The most important part is that you commit to incorporating writing into your daily life in a way that feels enjoyable and sustainable. After just a few weeks, compare your most recent writing to where you began. The difference may already be clear!
To Begin, Just Begin
Many people feel overwhelmed at the very prospect of writing. Worries about quality, coherence, and sounding “bad” can be so stressful that some may feel discouraged from starting at all. This is a common and unfortunate mistake.
To begin writing, all you need to do is start. Too-high personal expectations for beginning writers can result in feelings or dismay or feeling discouraged. Free yourself from judgement and worries over how your work will sound, or the prospect of creating something others may not enjoy.
Once you have your thoughts on paper, you will have plenty of time to revise, rethink, and rewrite your work. Finding yourself too preoccupied with making your first draft perfect can be ultimately destructive to your writing process.
No one’s first draft is amazing, and even the history’s most beloved authors and thinkers have spent hours pouring over their work, revising. The most important thing that all authors have in common is that they didn’t let a fear of failure or inadequacy stop them from using their voice, and you shouldn’t either.
Read, Read, Read
Some of the most repeated advice given by those who study writing to other prospective writers is not actually to write, but rather to read. And for good reason. Reading as much as you can, from as many sources and styles as you can is one of the best ways to develop your aptitude in writing. Everyone has a favorite genre, but be careful not to limit yourself.
With so many different styles and forms of great writing available, there’s something to be learned from all of it. From poetry and technical nonfiction, to short stories and long form novels, the more you read from all areas, the easier it will be for you to know what makes different styles of writing successful.
But that’s not all!. Reading broadly not only helps you learn about different styles and types of prose, but it also helps you identify what kind of writing you do and do not like. Knowing what kind of writing you love is key to developing your craft as a writer.
While writers should always be careful to credit and to never plagiarize, all writers find their own voice by listening to the voices of other authors first. Reading will help you feel inspired by pieces you love. For a while, you may try to emulate the voice or style of pieces you admire. Over time, frequent writing and reading will help you find your own unique voice and perspective to put to paper.
Develop Your Writing Craft at Antioch University
If you dream of becoming a writer, or feel compelled by the thought of studying writing in a more focused environment, Antioch can help. Offering comprehensive degrees in creative writing and communication, we’re committed to helping writers of all backgrounds and skill levels develop their own unique voice.