Mastering Words: Ways to Evolve as a Writer

Each day, we seek to put our best foot forward. We shower, dress for the day’s activities, style our hair. We plan, organize, gather our things, and check the mirror before leaving, making sure to pluck stray fluff off our sweaters and straighten our sleeves.

Why?

  • To enhance our strengths.
  • To appear confident.
  • To show the people who interact with us that we are collected and ready for whatever comes our way.

It’s human nature to minimize our weaknesses. We hide zits, disguise thinning hair and avoid talking about our embarrassing mistakes. But in writing, covering up flaws can keep us from success.

Writing weaknesses are normal. We all have them. But it’s okay, because each of us is on the same journey, and there is no finish line–no point we reach where we’re “good enough.” Regardless of how adept we become at writing, there will always be room to grow.

Let’s look at some of the key elements that will help you evolve as a writer.

Attitude

fearAll writers shares a common epiphany on the writing path. I call it Staring Into The Abyss. This experience happens when our writing has strengthened to the point where blissful ignorance rubs away and we begin to realize just how much we don’t know.

It’s a dark moment, a bleak moment. We feel shock. Frustration. Despair. Some stop right there on the path, their writing spirits broken. Others take a micro-step forward, progressing toward the most important stages leading to growth: acceptance and determination.

Once we come to terms with what we don’t know, we can set out to learn. Taking on the attitude of a Learner is what separates an amateur from a PRO.

Asking for help

Writers can strengthen their skills on their own, but it’s a lot of hard work. Reaching out to other writers will shorten the learning curve considerably. Critique partners can help identify your weak areas and offer strategies to improve. They also will know of resources which might help.

There are MANY great sites for writers to find a critique partner or two. I highly recommend The Critique Circle (free & safe to post work–this is where Becca and I met!) There are also sites like Critters Workshop and Agent Query’s Critique Partner Wanted board. Or, let Ladies Who Critique  play matchmaker for you.

The no-brainer: READ

book stackNo matter what areas need to be worked on, books can help. Find inspiration through your favorite fiction authors and in ‘how to’ books (here’s a great list to start on). Pick up a few and take notes. If you can, pair up with another writer to read the same book and then discuss it. Learning together gives you a better chance to fully understand any topic. This is what Becca and I did for an entire year, and our understanding of writing craft soared. It was time well spent.

Resources, resources, resources

There are thousands of articles on writing that can teach strong writing technique. Plotting, Story Structure, Voice, Description, Showing vs Telling, Style, Dialogue, Characters…whatever areas you want to develop, there is content out there to help you. Click HERE & check out out Writing Heroes for starters!)

The trick is finding the best nuggets of information without losing your whole day online. Try this Search Engine for Writers. You will find excellent articles on any aspect of writing imaginable. Pay attention to great article round ups like Maureen Crisp’s excellent one every Thursday, as well as Yesenia Vargas’ Monday Must Reads. And don’t forget to check our categories in the sidebar!

Think outside the monitor

Many of us are introverts, and it’s easy to get caught up on the keyboard and screen. There’s nothing wrong with this, unless your rectangular life preserver is holding you back. Writing Groups, Conferences, Work Shops and Retreats are all excellent opportunities to hone writing skills and meet mentors. Writing events need not be expensive–get involved in a local writing group and see what events have a low or no cost for members.

When you’re looking for opportunities to learn, don’t forget the movies. So much can be gleaned by watching films to see what makes them work. In fact, some of our biggest epiphanies as writers will come from studying screenwriting. I highly recommend reading Save the Cat & Writing Screenplays that Sell. These books are pure gold. Trust me, your writing will thank you!

ideaWrite and rewrite

Transforming writing weaknesses into strengths will take time. Choose learning strategies that work best for you and never stop writing. Each step of the way, apply new-found knowledge to the page. We learn most of all by doing, so always make time to write.

Chances are, you have more than one area where you know you can grow. Sometimes the easiest thing is to look at one facet at a time, and hone your skills in that area.Then when you feel like your writing is on sturdier ground, shift your focus to another facet of craft. Bit by bit, you will elevate your writing and feel proud at how far you have come.

Happy Writing!

Image 1: Geralt @ Pixabay
Image 3: jamoluk @ Pixabay

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in About Us, Critique Groups, Focus, Reading, Time Management, Writer's Attitude, Writing Craft, Writing Groups, Writing Lessons, Writing Resources, Writing Time. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Mastering Words: Ways to Evolve as a Writer

  1. Pingback: Words on a page

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  4. Lisa Turner says:

    I love your words about reaching the point where we realise just how much we don’t know: “It’s a dark moment, a bleak moment. We feel shock. Frustration. Despair”.

    Oh ain’t that the truth!

    Thank you for this article, much appreciated.

  5. Anisa says:

    I love this article! It’s something we all need to keep in mind when it comes to writing and this is fantastic: Once we come to terms with what we don’t know, we can set out to learn. Taking on the attitude of a Learner is what separates an amateur from a PRO.

    Anisa

    • Thanks Ansia! I think most writers are natural learners, but it is the epiphany that learning will never stop that they also need to embrace. We tend to get hung up on the concept of being “good enough” but the reality is there is always more to absorb. 🙂

  6. Really resonated with this post, and had a moment exactly as you describe. Sent my crappy first draft off to a friend of a friend who is an editor. I received a very detailed critique of first two chapters and realised I had much more to learn. I have the imagination and all the other skills I need to work on. So I am taking an online editing course and enjoying every minute of it. Each stage I come to, I educate myself as much as I can. It is a very slow process but I would rather share something in the end that is truly the best of me. Thanks, bookmarked this one for every time I need a remind myself if I can’t do something I can always take another course.

    • Kath, you have a great learner’s attitude, and can’t help but succeed when you apply yourself like this! Becoming a strong writer does take time and a lot of work. And there is always more to learn, but I think that is part of the fun when you love words like we writers do. 🙂

  7. Hi, thank you so much for the links. I will check out the Critique site and the writers’s search engine. I need as much help as I can get!
    Laura

  8. :Donna Marie says:

    All wonderful points to keep in mind, for sure, Angela 😀

  9. Wonderful advice as usual!!

  10. Mart Ramirez says:

    Love this. Thank you. And YAY for Save the Cat!!

  11. JC Martell says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It came at an important time for me. I read something yesterday written by a writer I admire and could see how amateurish my writing was. I felt like I would never come close to being able to write like a pro- and cried for hours feeling like giving up. The book I am trying to write is about love, family, and not being alone. It is important to me on many levels so to give up would have broken my heart. Thank you for putting me back on the right track – and for reminding me how much help there is out there and what a warm and sharing “family” the writing community is.
    Judi

  12. Oh wow, there’s so much great information here I can barely wrap my brain around a fraction of it. Thanks!

  13. Carleen M. Tjader says:

    This post has great ideas and writing resources!
    Thank you so much.

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