The art and struggle of writing, is it a talent for only the few chosen authors?
Is it something you are born with?
Certainly not, someone could say there are people who naturally have it easier to improve in creative areas may it be art, writing, poetry etc. but creativity is a skill you can polish and improve on.
In this post I will give you some tips that helped me personally to improve on writing and some friends of mine.
Here it doesn’t matter if you are aspiring to write short stories, articles or novels, but you have to prepare to work a bit harder and not depend on motivation or inspiration alone.
Writing is not based on inspiration
Connected to the statement before many writers or at least beginners tend to think that writing is only connected to their own motivation or inspiration, sometimes even both need to be present to start writing but this is not correct all the time.
A lot of stories, articles etc are founded on an idea, something that inspired or motivated the author to start writing that certain text, but the foundation of something does not continuously have a direct intervention with that what follows.
If you only depend on inspiration I may have to disappoint you that no matter how inspired or motivated you are in the beginning there will be a point or some bad days where motivation alone cannot help you and that is due to writer’s block, fatigue, depression and so on.
Sometimes you just can’t muster up the motivation or just cannot go full creative mode and write a whole novel while depending on it only, that’s why it’s a big misconception to start writing only when you feel like it, it may work for smaller projects but not for a long-term writing task like a thick novel or a series of texts.
Importance of research
Depending on what you are writing about, it could be sometimes harder to find the right words or the exact things you are looking for in your story.
It could be that you have a good idea and you kind of have a hunch of what you want to put in but something is just missing, and right there is where research comes in.
Research, especially in our time where knowledge is easily accessible, is really important and sadly underestimated when people think of the creative side of things.
No matter if it is about art, writing or poetry researching and using references will become an important task for anyone taking the path of a creative being.
The more realistic you write out injuries for example the more interested a reader will get and it may even affect the way people view the writer, not someone who is ignorant but somebody who really wants to reach out to the readers and make the experience of reading their texts even more enjoyable.
But research is not limited only to scientific aspects in texts, as well as phrasings or maybe reading many books that may connect with your idea to give you ressources to brainstorm on your project.
Because even if you may not find the thing you searched for there is always the chance of even better or plenty of other ideas to show up.
The more the merrier
Ever heard of the phrase, “two heads are better than one”?
Because that phrase holds a great amount of truth.
If you want to improve on your writing I may suggest for you to either enter a community where you can regularly exchange ideas or let someone read over your stuff, or grab that one honest friends of yours who can give you constructive criticism on your text (perfect would be someone who knows a bit about writing or writes as well).
Since sometimes no matter how much you go over your text you may not find errors, and on other days you feel like something is lacking and you just can’t get the gist of it.
That’s where Writer B comes in, Writer B will not read the text through the eyes of a writer but a reader, having experience in writing can have a great impact on the feedback you get back.
For example: Writer A is not sure what the text is lacking even though it may seem okay Writer B though reads through it and while grammar and spelling may not be the main problem Writer B hints out that the emotions that Writer A wanted to convey in that scene are coming a bit too short or are not expressed correctly like Writer A intended but Writer B know what Writer A wanted to suggest in that scene and gives Writer A the tip to slip into the role of the characters who try to explain what is going on to a third person.
Something like that scenario is not achievable if you depend on your skills or perspective alone, there may be times where people would give you criticism where it is not needed since both of your writing styles differ but most of the time it is efficient to work with another person on the things you might feel not satisfied with.
Another thing that is a valuable experience is brainstorming on ideas together.
When you have someone you trust who is as creative and dedicated as you, you will find great joy to exchange ideas and thoughts on new projects to work on, maybe when you need a new fresh idea that fills the little gap in your story that one person might be the solution to it.
It does not mean that person will definitely give you an idea but while speaking sometimes you, yourself might get the idea by engaging in a conversation and overthinking your own ideas to explain them to the other person.
The horror of writer’s block
Writer’s block, probably the most horrible thing that can happen when you are really into those new ideas of yours but all you can see is the world of blank space.
You try to write a sentence and need several hours just to get to the middle of one, you may even delete everything since you feel it’s all trash no matter how much you write.
Blocked, through and through, similar to art block writer’s block can only be overcome through active counter measurements instead of the misconception of waiting it out.
In some cases writer’s block can be even triggered by environmental factors like stress, pressure, deadlines, depression, derealization and more.
While some people really have the time to just wait out their writer’s block, it’s not the most effective way if you are limited in your time or actually have the urge to write deep down inside.
Firstly, try to find the source of your writer’s block.
If it is something that is obviously causing it like deadlines or pressure get rid of those factors as much as you can while you develop healthy positive thoughts.
Don’t see your writing as a chore but rather as something of relief, a time-out or your own little world you are escaping too instead of simply typing down words.
Writing is an expression too, instead of letting yourself get bound down by those words, see them as a way of expressing a little part of you.
Create an environment that makes you feel welcomed and comforting when you write, prepare your favourite snack and drinks, organise your workplace and maybe put on some soothing nature sounds while you are making your own atmosphere, don’t forget to open your window or walk around from time to time to get your head some rest.
Secondly, writer’s block is something any writer goes through at some point, don’t let it get to you.
Don’t worry too much or exaggerate the fact you have a writer’s block it can make things worse for you and it may even stretch out longer.
Accept the fact you have it and see it just as a part of your hobby/career/passion, whatever writing is for you and make room for it like a guest you invite, provide and let go at some point again (just like that one family member you see once in a year and hope they wouldn’t come too often).
If you treat your writer’s block like something harmless and accept it, it will be easier to work against it.
Thirdly, collect ideas and inspiration to start slowly and step by step.
Getting out of a writer’s block is not an easy task but you don’t need to overcome it in one day, work on it step by step.
Like a new sea you want to check out, you don’t recklessly jump in without knowing how deep it goes but you start slowly at the shore and dip your feet in.
If you start working on smaller tasks or little idea you have, write them down and force yourself to at least write a little bit with time you will find your flow again and overcome your blockage.
Last but not least, if you really want to be more productive even though you are in a writer’s block, work on different stuff and have variation in your projects.
When the writing part doesn’t work well, how about editing already written texts?
Or working on a schedule and plot-line instead?
There are many tasks that come with writing and writing the actual text is not the only part in that.
If you cannot write a whole scene then try research in the time you may not be able to write for example.
Write through the night
Or through dusk?
Since everyone works differently, find your own time where you are the most productive and creative.
I personally write often towards the evening and night since I have the most time there and there are no more chores that may throw me off during that time.
It’s silent and there is less distraction, of course it can cause me to go sleep late at night or even almost morning depending on certain days, but if it works out, why not?
One other daytime I like writing in is dusk to morning since when you wake up your mind is completely blank most of the time.
Getting rid of the morning drowsiness with a nice tea or coffee next to writing is the most soothing morning for me.
You have to find out how your inner clock works.
There are times as well where you just get impulses and waves of inspiration as well, so if you have one of those waves just drop everything if you are able to and write at least something down, like notes if you cannot write much more than that.
Notes and structure
For writers who may already have worked on bigger projects or plot-lines of novels this might be a big thing, structure, outlining and notes.
Back then when I started writing more seriously I wasn’t taking any notes, everything was in my head or at least I barely outlined the plot.
You could say I was basically writing on impulse or rather freestyle, which I thought was the way things worked until I realized the plot is getting thicker and more complex and things wouldn’t work freestyle anymore.
I got myself a notebook for my story ideas and on sticky note I always wrote my many scene ideas and the key elements I planned on them, and when I plan my chapters I take the things I want to happen in my notebook so I have a guideline when I write the actual chapter, adding details and a lot of other stuff later.
Structure is important if you want a red string in your plot, confusing the reader may be good in a mystery or horror novel, but if you have a slice-of-life romance novel you might not want to confuse the reader deliberately.
Especially later on structure and notes become important, since the worst thing one can do is, “Ah I don’t need to write this down I pretty much will remember”, won’t work unless it’s an idea that you engraved in your heart.
At some point you might even be frustrated you did not write the idea down and it might be gone forever even, so writing ideas down when they are freshly in your mind is the best way to preserve them for a later time, when you have more time to write things out.
For people who tend to write longer chapters or texts (like me), outlining them makes it much more easier to write them out since you have your guideline next to you when you get distracted or need to continue on another day, you won’t have to think hours what you wanted to write there last time or what should come next since you basically have your order of events which of course you can always change mid-way when you see them work out in another way.
Maybe this is the most important point why you should keep structure and notes in writing, overcoming writer’s block or bad writer’s day.
On some days you might just not have the spirit to write but at the same time you want to progress to a point of a story where you might feel this is the thing I need to write right now to get my spirit back.
If you already had outlined your texts, it will be easier to overcome that stage since your focus would be on the writing alone and you will have more time to actively overcome your blockage instead of having to just throw in some random scenes you just thought of to get them over with.
Same with beginning and endings of novels, they are the most annoying and exhausting chapters to write since you have to find the right pacing to get into the story’s core points and at them time leaving them in a pace that is adequate for the reader, if you already have them planned out it will take the burden of topics leading you to the fun scenes you want to write in the climax of the story.
And what is more satisfying than a coherent text?
Copying the writing style of someone else or just using ninety percent of a story you already read somewhere else will not help you develop any skills nor will it help you improve on your writing.
It is okay to read other books and try to implement one or two ideas.
At other times it might be even more rational to look up how other writers perceive a situation or try to describe them, but you should rather analyse the given text and make your own reference out of it.
As example, let’s take a dialogue between two strangers, you may not know how to implement that properly so you read through novels of other writers.
Instead of simply copying try to find hints and structures, ask yourself questions like: what did the writer try to convey? Who was leading in that conversation and why? In which way was the dialogue presented and how were feelings depicted? Was the pacing too fast or too slow, and how would you try to write that?
It’s about the bigger picture and perception, other writers should inspire you and make you think about what they wrote, not only copying in order to get a text done since your writing style is like your handwriting.
No matter how much you try to copy ones handwriting it will never be yours completely and you will struggle once there is not enough reference to copy from.
So it may be hard in the beginning to pinpoint certain aspects but developing a writing style comes with time, experience and obviously, through writing writing and again writing.
At times you may think you writing is top-notch material, if anybody would read it now they might give you a contract.
At other times… you will think this is just trashy the more I read it.
That might even happen when you first wrote your text and thought it was an amazing writing session and on the next day you might just flip the whole thing around, delete it and hide it from the world.
Basically trash talk you writing is the phenomena which is sometimes justified and at other times stems from a self-conscious attitude towards your texts, it can be due to writer’s block or after a long break of writing, but not necessarily any of them lead to that.
It’s important to know that you may be unsatisfied with your writing and not once or twice but the curse of trash talking your works, many artists share this trait as well, will follow you constantly.
After knowing that this curse exists things might be easier to understand since you know now you are trash talking your work, the best thing to confirm if it’s really justified or not is trying to read the text through a reader’s perspective or better let someone read through it who is experienced in writing.
Don’t let your self-conscious attitude stop you from writing amazing texts you just need to confirm with yourself if something is lacking in your text or if you are just being unsure about your skills.
Did any of these tips help you and if yes which ones?
Do you know more things that could improve writing or little tips that were effective but weren’t listed here?
Please write them down in the comments, I would be super excited to read them!
Since I am out of tea again, let’s meet up when I refill.
decaffeinated yours truly