The 1 Tool You Need to Become a Better Writer This Year

“How do I get better at writing so I can do [X]?”

“How do I get better at writing so I can do [X]?”

This is the fundamental question for both beginners and seasoned writers alike. Every day, we internally strive to perform a little better than we did the day before. We have goals, we can envision exactly the outcome we want — to publish our own books or to speak onstage about our ideas — whatever your greatest ambitions may be — and we don’t want to wait. We want to succeed NOW.

So there is, of course, nothing wrong with asking, “How do I improve?” Just as long as you understand that the answer might be more complicated and unglamorous than you’re hoping for.

Are you using the most valuable tool available — technically for free — at every writer’s fingertips? Chances are you aren’t — at least, not in the way you normally look at it.

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Writing Every Day (At First) Could Make Starting a Little Easier | The Blank Page

In the beginning, you might have to do things a little differently.

The Blank Page is a new weekly series on Novelty Revisions dedicated to any writer who is just beginning their journey or starting again after a long pause. Check back every Monday for more tips and inspiration.

It is a misconception that you can’t succeed as a writer if you don’t write every day.

I’ve encountered far too many writing “experts” over the years who claim that daily writing is the “only” way it can be done. There’s nothing wrong with the idea that writing every day can provide major benefits to those who put it into practice. It’s just that implying there is only one way to do it “right” is pretty silly.

Here’s the thing about writing advice: It’s complicated. Sites and blogs like mine put a lot of effort into catering their tips and suggestions to the masses when a writing or productivity strategy is really up to personal preference. Every individual finds success in writing in very different ways.

I, for example, spent the past year writing almost every single day — I think I may have taken the equivalent of a week’s worth of days off, but not all in a row, and sometimes not on purpose. I accomplished a lot, writing-wise, in 2019. I couldn’t have done what I did without a(n almost) daily writing strategy.

But I would never tell someone they HAD to do what I did if they wanted to find success with their own words.

However … that doesn’t mean I won’t suggest that some people — beginning writers in particular — can’t benefit from this practice in a big way.

Let me break it down for you.

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This Is When You’re Most Likely to Lose Interest In a Writing Project (and How to Keep Going)

This is the point in your work-in-progress that could determine whether or not you’ll actually finish it.

Think back to the last time you came into contact with a brand-new idea for the first time. Do you remember how it felt?

Maybe it was unexpected — you were just minding your own business when it wandered into your life. Maybe you were secretly hoping something would come along but had all but given up on the possibility — but you just kept holding on.

Regardless, chances are you were an absolute wreck — in a good way — when this new idea hit. You couldn’t think about anything else. It seemed the more you thought about it, the more the idea began to expand inside your head — almost as if the story was already writing itself with each passing second (and without you).

This is, by far, one of the most exciting states of being a writer — those moments you are so captivated by a new idea that you give it permission to completely consume you, even if only for a short time.

But something almost always happens far too soon after you and your new idea meet.

One minute you’re so into your new project that hours could go by and you wouldn’t even notice. And the next … well. The next, you suddenly want absolutely nothing to do with your new idea anymore. It doesn’t feel exciting anymore. It feels boring. You almost even dread the thought of “having” to pick it up again.

What happened?

Unfortunately, being a human has plenty of downsides — one of them being that when the initial thrill of something wears off, our brains often stop providing the rush of endorphins that once accompanied even every thought of doing the thing that, seemingly three days ago, we were so excited about that we could barely sleep.

Once the novelty of your work wears off, you have two options: Continue on, even though you might not really “feel like it,” or give up.

Here’s why giving up is often so easy … and how to fight the urge to quit.

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12 Reasons Writing Is Actually Kind of … Terrifying?

3. You are in control. You have ALL THE POWER. Sometimes that’s overwhelming.

1. Out of all the ideas roaming around inside your head, you somehow have to figure out how to focus on just a few at a time. What happens to the rest of them? Do they stick around … or disappear?

2. You might write with a different “voice” than you speak casually, and sometimes the “real you” feels like a completely different person. How do you DEAL with that?

3. You are in control. You have ALL THE POWER. Sometimes that’s overwhelming.

4. There are these things called characters and sometimes THEY START DOING THINGS WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION AND YOU JUST HAVE TO GO WITH IT?

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12 Quick Writing Tips for Beginners (and Anyone Returning From a Long Break)

3. You don’t have to write a novel in a day. Take things one step at a time — slow progress is still progress.

1. Writing what you know a lot about/are interested in is a great place to start — there is always room to learn and branch out/expand your horizons once you’re more comfortable.

2. There is no “wrong” way to start writing, as long as you actually physically start writing (your own original arrangements of words, of course).

3. You don’t have to write a novel in a day. Take things one step at a time — slow progress is still progress.

4. You don’t even have to have a goal if that’s going to stress or overwhelm you too much. Keep it simple: Try to write just a little bit at a time at the start and see how things go.

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12 Simple and Effective Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills Over Time

6. Keep a journal — and keep it casual.

1. Reread (and critique) your own writing. We don’t like to look at our own mistakes, but it’s one great way to learn not to repeat them.

2. Try a regular series of writing prompts a few days a week — even if writing prompts aren’t normally your “thing.”

3. Blog as regularly as possible about a topic that interests you, even if you don’t publish your posts.

4. Read! READ READ READ READ READ! The best writers are also major readers (audiobooks count!).

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The 12 Most Rewarding Things About Being a Writer

Being a writer definitely has its perks.

1. You always have somewhere unique to escape to, even when you don’t think you need it.

2. Having complete control over the outcome of a story and the characters that live in it.

3. Realizing that you have the potential to tell a story no one has ever told before — at least, not the way you’re going to tell it.

4. Being able to seek revenge on your enemies without causing them any actual real-world harm. (You think this is a joke. It’s not. Or is it?)

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12 Bad Writing Habits You Should Break This Year

4. Only writing when you “feel like it.”

1. Writing the same story with the same characters over and over again.

2. Writing more than you read. (There should be an “almost” equal balance.)

3. Not putting your work out there because you’re afraid of being judged.

4. Only writing when you “feel like it.”

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Why I’m Not Tracking My Writing Progress Anymore

I’m done. Done, done, done. Forever. Probably.

For 365 days in a row, I kept track of almost every single word I wrote.

There were some exceptions — most tweets (except for one thread in particular that really should have been its own article), most emails, messages to co-workers, family, and friends.

But if I wrote an article, I tracked it. A book review? Tracked it. Worked on a first draft of a book? Tracked that too, Blog posts: Tracked. Cover letters, journal entries, headlines. I tracked it all in one single spreadsheet for the entirety of 2019 until the number at the top added up to 1 million.

This obsessive, time-consuming tracking had a purpose. And looking back, it served its purpose well.

But I’m done with that. Done with counting words, done with tracking number of articles written and books started. I’m done with all of it. And I couldn’t be happier … for a few key reasons.

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The New Story Idea You Never Asked to Meet

Even when you think you are out of ideas, sometimes ideas are waiting in the wings.

It was a Friday night. I had just worked for almost 12 hours straight, because sometimes in online publishing that’s just what you do to set up for a weekend. I was exhausted. Self-care was my new “thing,” it being a new year. Taking care of myself had to be a priority. It just HAD to be.

My plan was specific almost to the minute (because even in relaxation, I have to make some plans — I am who I am and I am not ashamed). Shower. Practice violin. Cuddle underneath a blanket next to my puppy and read a book, or watch YouTube videos — whichever my brain could handle by that time.

I made it as far as halfway through the shower before everything fell apart.

All because of yet another unsolicited story idea.

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