Are You As Good at Writing As You Want to Be? Here’s How to Improve

The answer is so simple and obvious — and it isn’t that they were “born” with exceptional talent like so many people seem to think.

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I would honestly be surprised if your answer to this question was, “Yes.”

I’m not saying you’re not good at writing. I don’t even know you. But I think it’s in our nature, as creatives, to always want to be better than we currently are. Especially when it comes to our craft.

I’ve found myself sitting in concerts thinking, “I wish I could sing/play like that.” I’ve looked at art, read books, watched movies, and thought, “How did they get so good at this?”

The answer is so simple and obvious — and it isn’t that they were “born” with exceptional talent like so many people seem to think.

The truth is, they worked for their achievements. These are skills they developed over a span of many years of consistent, exhausting effort.

Writing is not something you are born doing, and you don’t just automatically know how to do it well. Therefore, the only way to get better at it is …

Keep writing.

A lot of people quit writing when they start feeling like they aren’t getting anywhere or when they’re working hard but no one is praising them for it. It’s not an uncommon struggle by any means. But the only way to get where you want to be in anything is to continue pursuing it.

This applies to any skill. Painting, singing, coding, accounting … The only way to get “good,” to get “better” at something is to do it over and over and over again until you figure out what “good” means for you.

I wrote my first “full-length” novel when I was 14. It was terrible. I spent a lot of time comparing my first try to the finished, polished works of authors I admired, wondering why my book couldn’t be as good as theirs. But it was my FIRST TRY.

If I’d stopped after that, I never would have gotten better. But since then, each attempt at another book has turned out slightly better than the last.

I am still learning and growing, and have a long way to go. But I still roll my eyes (internally) when people say things to me like, “You’re so talented.” Not really. I wasn’t born a good writer. Perhaps I was born with the ability to focus on something long enough, and remain dedicated enough, to improve a skill I was interested in developing. But I got better because I WORKED. Hard. For years. And still do.

There are still days I read other people’s work and start thinking how much I wish I could “be that good.” But you can’t just expect to blink and all of a sudden you’re good at something. There is no instant gratification in this industry. You work, you accomplish things, you keep doing it until Things Happen.

It’s never the answer anyone wants to hear. But it’s the one you’re going to get here. :)


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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