Everyone wants to write the next great American novel until they sit down and discover that writing is hard!
It takes a particular skill and mindset to craft an intriguing story and write in a way others will appreciate. On the plus side, it’s a skill anyone can learn. While scrolling through a fantastic writing community on Reddit, I found a great question asking writing enthusiasts to share the best advice they ever received on how to improve their writing.
Use some of this advice to practice your craft and become a better writer.
They say practice makes perfect, and the same is true for writing. The more you write, the better you will become.
“Get in the habit of writing as often as you can,” shared one user, adding, “you’ll get nothing done if you wait to be inspired.”
To be a great author, you should learn from the greats (and not so greats.) Devour as many books as possible to taste different genres, writing styles, and techniques. Discover through reading what works and what doesn’t.
“I got into a big writer’s block with all options and ideas. Reading really dug me out; I understood what I liked, what I didn’t, reminded me why I wanted to write,” admitted one commenter.
Write What You Want to Read
“When I first started in writing, I took any gig I could to make ends meet, and rarely was I writing about something that interested me, and my god, could you tell,” explained one user.
Although you have to do what you have to do to make ends meet, the best stories will be the ones you’re excited about writing.
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Don’t Judge Your First Draft
First drafts are drafts for a reason. They aren’t going to be good. “It should be really bad!” exclaimed one user, discussing the quality of first drafts.
The user went on to give a great lesson for all aspiring writers that they heard elsewhere “Every first draft is perfect because the only purpose of a first draft is to exist,” they said, explaining, “if you wrote and finished a first draft, you did it perfectly.”
Character Develop is Vital
Compelling characters are critical to a great story. “Flat characters are way too common these days, even in ‘professionally’ made stuff,” lamented one user.
Others said you need to make your characters want something and make them change as the story develops. “In the end, make sure they have undergone some change,” advised one Redditor, “even if they didn’t get what they wanted.”
Also See: Your Guide to the Chaotic Neutral Character Trope
Understand When Inspiration Happens
One user shared words of wisdom from acclaimed author Madeleine L’Engle “Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.”
You need to start. It’s unlikely a random spark of inspiration will hit while you’re twiddling your thumbs, waiting for it. Get started, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly the words flow.
How many stories have you started but not finished? “You don’t know what the story really is until you finish it.” shared one user.
Don’t leave your stories hanging. You may discover a gem of an idea hidden in your initial story’s ending.
Stop Caring About Politeness
One user shared a gem they picked up from Stephen King’s best-selling resource On Writing.
“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway,” King said in the book.
When writing, you need to be truthful. You need to dig deep into the vast darkness of humanity and showcase what you’ve found, flaws and all. If you avoid the truth to appease the pearl cultures, you’ll never be successful as a writer.
Popular Reading: The 7 Building Blocks for an Epic Story
Don’t Worry About What’s “Hot”
Some writers try to mimic the popular stories of their time. How many aspiring writers attempted to emulate the success of works like Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games to disappointing results?
“You’ll never make a splash by just doing what everyone else is doing,” advised one user, adding, “If you’re not passionate about something, then it usually shows in the writing.”
Write the story you want to write, regardless of current trends. Your passion for your story will shine through.
Perfection is the Enemy of Progress
“Stop trying to make it perfect and just write!” exclaimed one user.
Your writing will never be perfect. Nothing we do in life will be perfect. Perfect is an unachievable goal that gives people an excuse not to accomplish anything.
Instead, just write. Write horribly at first. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re doing it. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. If writing is worth doing to you, it should be worth doing poorly.
Show, Don’t Tell
Show, don’t tell is one of the biggest rules of literature. One aspiring writer in the thread said it prevents them from writing a boring story and helps them expand their vocabulary.
You don’t need to explain everything in a book. Show the reader what’s happening through action and dialogue, don’t describe it.
Writing is Tough, But Practice Makes Perfect
You can be a great writer. The Reddit thread is filled with advice to help you on your journey, but the most important thing you can do is start.
Write that first chapter. Develop engaging characters. Revisit your story and revise your drafts. Before you know it, you will have a fantastic tale you’ll be proud to share.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.