Are you a newbie or an experienced writer? Do you write fiction or nonfiction? Full-length manuscripts or short stories? Poetry or prose? Articles or blog posts?
No matter what you write or how experienced you are, there is always more to learn. Here are eight ways to improve your craft.
Follow Writers and Authors on Facebook and Twitter
I offer this advice with a grain of salt. It is easy to spend so much time on the social networks that you neglect your own writing. However, it is a great way to learn what other writers are up to, what books and blog posts they have published recently, and how you might want to engage your own readers when the time comes.
Of course it makes sense to read blogs on the craft of writing, but it is also a great idea to read blogs posted by writers whose style you enjoy and/or who write about things that interest you. Reading posts that are well written can help as you seek to develop your own skills.
Reference Books and Market Guides
There are countless skills development books available.
I also advise buying one or more style guides, such as The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, The Chicago Manual of Style, and/or The Associated Press Stylebook.
Market guides are invaluable. Writer’s Digest publishes a wide variety every year.
“It is easy to go overboard when stocking your bookshelves,” says she who has done so both with physical books and ebooks.
My number one suggestion would be ask fellow writers for suggestions, read reviews, and purchase one book on each topic that interests you. After reading a book, you may want to repeat the process to buy another on the same topic.
Attending a writers’ conference can be intimidating, but it can be an amazing experience for many reasons. Here are just a few of those reasons:
- Learn from keynote, seminar, and continuing class speakers
- Rub shoulders with published authors
- Meet editors, publishers, and agents (and possibly interest them in your project)
- Make new friends
- Go home supercharged to write
Submit According to Guidelines
Take the time to read the submission guidelines carefully—and follow them. A sure sign that you’re an amateur is to disregard these guidelines. Remember to behave professionally. It will go a long way.
Enter Writing Contests
If you don’t know where to start, simply type “Writing Contests” into your search engine. Some are free to enter. Others have an entry fee. The prizes offered are usually comparable to the fee. While it costs $30.00 to enter the Writer’s Digest contests, the prizes are well worth it.
On the other hand, contests with substantial prizes also attract many gifted writers. Your work really has to shine.
That said, there are many benefits to entering writing contests: working to specifications, meeting a deadline, following submission guidelines, to name a few. And who knows, you might win a prize and that will fuel your enthusiasm to continue writing and entering contests and/or submitting your work to paying markets.
Write, Just Write
Never, ever, ever think you have to know it all (or even know more than you do now) before you write regularly. Writing is a classic case of learning by doing. Schedule time to write and keep your appointment. Ideally, do so every day.
Stephanie Nickel, CES Editor/Writer/Coach
Questions? Email karen@ChristianEditingServices.com