As any successful writer knows there are secrets to better writing, but by the time they are successful they are no longer secrets. Sadly when you start out writing either for fun or to make money it stands to reason that they are going to be some aspects of the craft that elude you. It’s just the way things are.
I hate to think how many common writing mistakes I made in the first few of years of my career. Luckily I had the support and knowledge of writing mentors and their resources to draw on, people who would share these so-called ‘secrets’ with me. It’s what they told me, and I what I read, that enabled me jumpstart my writing career… or if that sounds too formal, it’s some of the stuff I learnt that all new writers should have the opportunity to learn earlier.
Never underestimate the importance of joining a good writing group and mixing with other writers.
Not only is it a great place to bounce ideas of other people, to share information but it’s your place to ‘be a writer’. It’s all too easy today to ‘be’ things - a parent, a nurse, a housewife, a son, etc. Yet if writing is what you want to do it’s also important to ‘be a writer’, and since this is sometimes hard to be within the structure of a pre-designed day often the best solution is to get out the house for a while and ‘be’ somewhere else.
Learning how to critique is also something that can be done within a group. Getting, and giving, feedback on work is a definite step on the path to better writing. Very few good pieces of work are the result of the first draft; most have taken hours of rewriting and editing.
Of course there is also plenty of learning and growing that can be done at home. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘If you want to write well you must read, read, read’. Well it’s true, but the improvement and journey to better writing isn’t just in the reading of a story. There is a lot to be learned from structure, style, voice, descriptions, the list goes on.
First sentences, for example, are often overlooked by new writers. Yet this sentence is what gets the reader into your book or story. After all, if they don’t like the first one what are the chances that they will read the second one or the first chapter?
If necessary write the first sentence twenty times, perhaps even write the whole story and then come back and rewrite the first paragraph, or even first chapter. In many ways this is the most important wording of the whole story/book/article.
There is so much more to good writing than just putting the words on the page, although of course without the latter there would never be the former.
In simple words, if you want to achieve better writing absorb everything you can from writers who have gone before you. It doesn’t mean you have to follow everything they say exactly, because as with any skill there will be thoughts that you disagree with, so simply absorb the information and if it works for you keep it.