(Editor’s note: This was one of the top viewed stories of 2014. We’re rerunning it as part of a look back at the articles that captivated our readers the most.)
It’s one thing to say you’re a writer. It’s another to take writing seriously enough that you strive to improve your writing skills every day.
Ask any writer whether they read, and the answer will be “yes.” However, it takes more than reading newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs, and books to improve your writing skills. You must immerse yourself in the world of writing and be 100 percent committed to the craft.
To help you become the best writer you can be, here are 10 techniques to improve your writing skills.
1. Keep a journal.
Believe it or not, writing in a journal can help you improve your writing skills. It can also help you discover new story ideas that could be developed into the next best-seller.
When you write in your journal, don’t censor your words. Allow them to flow freely.
2. Participate in writing prompts.
3. Rewrite your blog posts.
If you have a blog, go back a couple of years and find a few blog posts to rewrite and repurpose. You may be surprised how much your writing has improved over time.
4. Rewrite newspaper and magazine articles.
Choose your favorite newspaper or magazine, and rewrite a couple of the articles. Challenge yourself to write a stronger headline and copy.
5. Activate Google alerts.
Setup a Google Alert for writing, writing skills, book writing, and other alerts, and follow the latest stories. Read what other writers are doing to improve their writing skills.
6. Read beyond what you normally read.
If you have a hankering for fantasy, sci-fi, romance, memoirs, YA, NA, middle grade, self-help, or whatever tickles your writer’s fancy, get out of your comfort zone and read something different. Stretch your mind, and you’ll stretch your writing skills.
7. Comment on your favorite blog posts.
Challenge yourself to write in-depth comments instead of the familiar, “Great post!” or, “Thanks for sharing this brilliant information.” Such vapid comments do not add to the conversation, nor do they improve your writing skills. Here’s a tip: If you want to get noticed by the blog owner and taken seriously, write a decent comment.
8. Join a writer’s group.
Don’t be shy about sharing your writing. One of the greatest ways to improve your writing is to join a writer’s group in which you’ll receive valuable feedback such as how to strengthen introductions, how to develop characters, how to write stronger scenes, and more. Please note: You may have to try out a few groups before you find any that work for you.
9. Attend a writer’s conference or workshop.
When I lived in Chandler, Ariz., I was blessed to have found Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The owners schedule writing workshops throughout the year. Not only did I meet fellow aspiring authors, I met published authors who would share writing tips and tricks such as the importance of using an outline, whether you write fiction or nonfiction.
Writer’s conferences and workshops are good places to meet editors, literary agents, publishers, and other writers. You can take a class or two and improve your writing skills in no time, and the contacts you make are invaluable to your career.
You must write to improve your writing skills. Try to write at least 1,000 words each day or every other day. When you think you’ve finished writing, write some more. When you think you’ve really finished writing, keep writing.
To improve your writing, you need to write five days a week, 50 weeks per year, if not more. Writing requires dedication and time. If you’re serious about being a published author, you need to write and write and write.
If you want to improve your writing skills and write a best-seller, start writing at least 1,000 words every day.
Being a skilled writer and published author is not an impossible dream. It’s closer to reality than you might believe.
Amandah Tayler Blackwell is a published author with Nascent Digital Press under the pen name Celeste Teylar. She’s the owner of Savvy-Writer.com, and is a freelance, ghost and creative writer. A version of this article originally appeared on Nascent Digital Press.