Too many budding writers think that once they make it, they’ve arrived and can call themselves a success.
Well, you may have a goal, a dream, something you long to accomplish—but achieving that will not be your final destination—not if you’re a lifelong learner.
Maybe, like me, you’ll finish writing a manuscript, get it published, maybe even see it become a bestselling book. But still, your journey will not be over.
I’ve written and published 197 books, 21 of which have hit the New York Times bestseller list. Yet I’m still learning.
And if I’ve learned nothing else, I know this:
There’s always room to hone your writing skills.
I still find ways to improve my craft every day.
Writing well takes work, and there’s no shortcut around improving.
The good news is that you can take steps today to become a better writer. Here are a few to get you started.
1. Start calling yourself a writer.
You may wonder if you’re allowed to call yourself a writer if you haven’t finished a book, let alone published one.
Let me ask you: Do you write?
If you do, you’re a writer. It’s that simple.
But, when I say write, I mean write. I don’t mean dream about it, hope for it, think about doing it tomorrow. I mean actually writing.
Dreamers talk about writing. Writers write.
2. Read, then read some more.
Writers are readers. Good writers are good readers. Great writers are great readers.
Read everything you can in the genre you want to write in. Aim toward reading at least 200 titles in that genre.
The more you read, the more you understand what works, what doesn’t, and how to make your book stand out.
3. Establish a writing routine you can stick to
The only way to ensure you write every day is to build it into your schedule.
You should have time specifically set aside to write, every day.
Research, outline, write, edit, revise. Do whatever is necessary to progress.
Keep your writing time sacred and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
4. Treat Writer’s Block as a myth
You might think this is crazy, especially if you’re suffering from it right now.
I get it. I’ve been there. I know how it feels to not want to write a word. But calling that Writer’s Block is a misnomer. What we’re really feeling is: :
Think about it. No other profession claims such a malady.
You can’t call your boss and say, “I’m not coming in today. I have Worker’s Block.”
You’d be laughed off the phone.
When you can’t get yourself to the keyboard, call the problem what it is: Fear.
And that fear is legitimate, so embrace it! Maybe you AREN’T good enough and the competition IS too fierce. Acknowledge the truth of that and let the fear humble you and motivate you to do your absolute best work every time.
5. Think reader-first.
They are the ones who will internalize your writing.
Treat readers the way you want to be treated, and keep them invested in every page of your story.
Grab their attention early and never let go.
6. Eliminate passive voice and focus on powerful verbs.
This doesn’t have to be complicated.
Root out state-of-being verbs (Google that term to find a handy list) and the word by.
Passive: The meeting was planned by Kristen.
Active: Kristen planned the meeting.
Avoiding passive voice will separate you from other writers. Then focusing on powerful verbs and nouns rather than adjectives.
7. Master the writing craft.
Every year, I read The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. In fact, I read just about every new book on writing too.
The way to keep learning and growing is to keep working on the fundamentals of good writing.
I’d love to be able to say I’ve arrived as a writer, and some see my number of books and sales and say that I have.
But I know better. The older and more experienced I grow, the more I realize how much I DON’T know. THAT’S what motivates me to stay at the task.
Now that you have a simple plan to improve your writing, I’d love to help you see where you can go from here.
Complete this writing assessment exercise, and I’ll give you free customized feedback on what your next step should be.