Hone Your Creative Writing Skills: 8 Key Strategies
Creative writing is a unique endeavor, and one that offers great rewards and many challenges. Whether you are an amateur creative writer, or a professional with years of experience, there is always room to improve upon your craft. With the 8 key strategies below, you will complement your skills with clever, effective plans of action in order to supercharge your writing.
1. Utilize professional writing software
There are fantastic resources available on the web which can make a writer’s job less laborious. Novel writing software in particular eases the workload for the writer, so they can focus more on the creative aspect. We are fortunate to live in an era where we have these tools at our fingertips. Imagine writing in the time of William Shakespeare, where everything was done by hand, and all research took countless hours. Or even in the most recent decades of Ernest Hemingway, prior to the advent of the internet.
2. Employ the use of beta readers
Beta readers are typically peers and editors who offer a pre-release read through. It is always beneficial to have more sets of eyes on your manuscript or story prior to release. If you are an amateur author, pick a friend or family member who has at least a little interest in reading. One of the worst mistakes you can make is being your own critic. Often times, a writer will read his or her own work, hearing it (in their mind) as they want it to be heard. The objectivity is lost. Beta readers solve that problem, and their valuable feedback will show the creative writer weaknesses and strengths.
3. Write every day
This may seem obvious, but it is a key strategy worth mentioning. Like any other skill, writing takes practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it. The only way to build upon your writing skill is to work at your craft as much as possible, and then some. You need to put in the hours. Whether you establish a nightly routine of five hundred words before bed, or aim higher, the daily regime will set a writing flow within your mind. You will have ideas follow you throughout the day, and chase you when sleep calls (keep a bedside notebook!)
4. Seek criticism, not praise
Constructive criticism is paramount for any creative writer. While praise feels satisfying and is good for building self-confidence, it rarely fosters self-improvement. You need to find your weak points in writing, whether they be plot, character development, dialogue, or the basics of grammar and syntax. The only way to accomplish this is by humbly receiving criticism from readers.
5. Read voraciously in your genre
There is no substitute for reading. Get your hands on as much reading material in your genre as possible, and get down to it. Make it a daily habit. Start low if need be. Aim for ten pages a day, and work your way up. It goes without saying that this should be an enjoyable task!
6. Stay active on social media
Even if you are not active on social media in your personal life, make it a habit for the sake of your writing career. There is never a downside to making connections, and as stated in point 5 above, we are fortunate to have that ease of access today. This is especially true if you are a creative writer in a very particular niche, such as H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmicism, where finding an audience can be a daunting task.
7. Utilize the advice of authors you know and admire
Read Q&A’s from authors you know, respect, enjoy, and admire. They do not have to be famous, best sellers. If their work resonates with you, it would behoove you to hear what they have to say. Many creative writers with experience in their genre can weigh in on the process of writing in general. They can advise on good habits to form, how to build a novel from start to finish, and things for amateur writers to avoid. See what worked for them, and try it yourself.
8. Conquer writer’s block
Every writer, especially creative writers, will face writer’s block at one point or another. Sometimes it is a minor inconvenience, other times it is a hideous beast that needs to be brought down. There are many schools of thought on how to deal with writer’s block. Some experienced writers advise walking away from the keyboard (or pen and paper), and simply taking a break. Others face it head on. Avoid the pitfall of giving up too easily. Sometimes writing through it, even if you are not happy with the work, will clear up the block and allow you to get back into the creative space.
The creative writer has a duty to constantly look for new and unique ways to improve themselves and their abilities. All creative writers have their own voices and styles, but even latent talent needs to be paired with hard work. By utilizing the above steps, you will see your creative writing skills improve over time, and rejoice.