I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a writer better. Certainly, you have to be creative, that’s a given, and you have to love stories and reading. But what is that will make you better? Here’s my answer; time.
What do I mean by that?
With the exception of a few very talented people, most writers take years to hone their skills. Some writer’s like Stephen King say that a writer’s schooling is never finished. That writer’s always have something more to learn about the craft. There’s always a better descriptive phrase or character trait out there in the field of the imagination. And I do believe that.
A few things that I’ve learned over the years that have helped make my stories better is blogging. I try to post every two or three days if possible. The constant pressure of trying to come up with a subject and then write a post for the world to see has honed my storytelling skills. A now famous newspaper journalist-turned-novelist once said that the daily articles she provided for her editor prepared her for the rigors of writing a full scale novel. This writer’s name was Jennifer Weiner, bestselling author of numerous chic-lit novels.
The other thing I’ve learned about becoming a better writer is you have to talk to yourself a lot. I mean a lot! I know it sounds crazy but a few of you will relate. Tell yourself stories during the day. Make up things about people you pass on the street. I spend a good portion of my social activities imagining things about people I see, sometimes talking out loud to my wife about the fantasy lives I’ve concocted about these folks. She’ll look at me a little weird.
The last quick note I want to say about becoming a great writer is that you must write something every day. I know everyone’s heard that a million times but it’s so true. It makes you better and faster. My first novel took me three years to complete, my eleventh novel took one. And now I’m in the throes of a four book dystopian novella series that I’m planning one complete book every three months.
Writing is a profession as difficult as any. You can’t take a magic pill or a single college course and learn all there is to the craft. A real writer knows this and knows with time they will only get better.