One of the most appealing aspects of becoming a writer is that for most it’s a pursuit of passion. From an immature I-got-A’s-in-all-my-English-classes standpoint it may seem like one of the easiest and enjoyable professions. This naivety is quickly defeated when a writer learns that, while there is a magic in writing, there is also tremendous struggle to make a piece the paramount of the writer’s ability, and to become successful in a career that relies so much on personal talent, aptitude, and effort. All hope should not be abandoned, however, there are a number of habits one can adopt in order to improve their writing and improve their chances of success in that field.
It may seem trivial that good writers spend a lot of time reading. In fact, a good portion of writers desire that profession because of their fascination with books. However, for some writers it may be difficult to overcome the desire to output and to instead absorb new concepts and ideas. Reading is such a powerful tool not only because it’s stimulating and teaches other writer’s methods, but it is also a way to relax and simply absorb new material that can permeate the mind for a while.
Write the truth
Often writers wish to make their story perfect; to sand the edges and sweep the dirt under the rug. However, this is not how real life works. Real life is messy and often chaotic, and there is really no place for perfect harmony in any book that pertains to the world as it is known. Characters stumble, stutter, and slur. They leave coffee rings on the counter, they make mistakes. Nature also is not pristine. There are unclean, unattractive, and downright repulsive things in nature, but these are the facts of reality. These are details that people know, and will recognize as real to them. Writing the truth makes writing more impressive and relatable.
Write regardless of having anything to write
A huge struggle writers face is the inability to throw words onto a page. Either procrastination sets in, or they can’t conceive any ideas, or the ideas flow but the words won’t. The important thing is never to stop writing, even if you can’t think of anything good or marketable or original. You may write 25 pages on amateur nonsense, but even that can be edited or revised where blank pages cannot. It is much easier to build something slowly and to perfect it along the way than to hope for some masterpiece of literature to come streaming from the mind.
Avoid distractions physically and mentally
Obviously it’s a good idea to stay away from your phone or useless distractions. Some things like hobbies or relaxing activities actually propagate the creative flow, but this is not an excuse to avoid writing completely. It is also possible to get distracted mentally from writing, which impedes the production of writing completely. Being distracted mentally can be avoided by constantly writing down the ideas that come to mind.
Some might like to think that good writing just comes from very talented writers who can rattle off a novel over a few years. This, historically, is far from the truth. While the fun often exists in the ideas and the language first applied to a page, it’s often the editing which makes good writing phenomenal. There is almost always opportunity to improve a sentence or a paragraph; to cut things to the essentials, to invoke more emotion, or to elaborate on details. Edit until you don’t think you can form a more perfect piece.
There is also the curse of jumping from project to project and ending up with dozens of beginnings and no complete piece of writing. As fun as the beginning of a piece is for a lot of writers, no novel was ever published without an ending. It’s perfectly okay to have a lot of ideas and to write them down, but you cannot forget the past inspirations because you’ll simply go hungry and your writing will never be published. There will be frustrating and tedious parts you have to write through, but set yourself on making those parts perfect as well.
Keep what you don’t like
Even if you write something that you end up hating, do not discard it. It is still content, it is still useful, and you might regret throwing away something that could have been brilliant if you worked on it. You could revisit the ideas that you initially thought just wouldn’t work on days where you can’t seem to invent anything, and something is better than nothing.
Don’t marry your writing
A lot of writers tend to fall in love with their own pieces. But this is often a hindrance to full development of a piece. If the writer wants one event to happen, and will not accept any other circumstance, then he has already limited his opportunities in the piece. If the story ends up collapsing from internal issues, he might have to let that piece go. There will be many failures. If he actually got the piece published and it did not have positive reviews, he might get offended.
Keep something to write with you at all times
This is fairly obvious but always keep a pen and pad or writing device near you for those fleeting ideas, especially at night.
Don’t give up
Although it all may be frustrating initially, keep at it and refine the art if it’s really something you care about and want to pursue. Grow a thick skin, grow your vocabulary, and give the gift of literature to the world.
John Cabrera is freelance writer, web content writer, editor, blogger, content strategist, and ghostwriter. He is the co-founder of Freelance Writer Opportunities, a blog dedicated to writers’ financial growth. Want to know how to create passive income from your exiting writing? Download the free digital guide Create Passive Income From Your Writing.