For some people, writing comes naturally but, for others, it’s a skill that must be nurtured and grown. Even if you feel as though you have a lot to say, or that your voice as a writer can contribute to the world of literature, that doesn’t mean you automatically have the skills you need to become the writer you know you can be. Conversely, those who feel as though they simply ‘don’t have what it takes’ to be a writer can easily learn the habits and skills they need to develop the writer within. These five steps will take you from blank slate to finished project in no time.
1. Don’t Use a Special Voice. Ever notice how when some people answer the phone suddenly their voice changes? This can happen when it comes to writing as well. Don’t pressure yourself to sound a certain way as you write. Instead, write the rough draft for something as if you are writing an email to a friend. Sure, you’ll need to go back and tighten things up later, but getting the ideas down on paper will give you a jumping off point and helps to get your creativity flowing.
2. Let Yourself Suck. Every writer in the world has written some awful stuff. Just like athletes, writers must practice and warm up. Turn off your inner critic and let yourself go – write about anything you want and if it’s terrible, just throw it away or file in a folder in the depths of your hard drive. Over time, you’ll find that many of these false starts actually bear fruit and inspiration will come from writing sessions that began as nothing more than a warm up.
3. Speak! For many new writers, the act of typing or writing by hand simply isn’t fast enough for them to get their thoughts onto paper. If you find yourself getting tripped up, invest in some voice recognition software and a good microphone so you can simply dictate your thoughts to your computer. This will help to give you confidence in explaining your ideas more fully and means that you can write as fast as you speak which can help keep your creativity flowing.
4. Get a Notebook. There are times when inspiration hits when you’re miles away from a computer. If the perfect opening line, iron clad argument or idea outline for a paper comes to mind when you’re standing in line at a store, have a notebook handy to jot it down. Acting on creative inspiration will encourage your brain to be creative more often and jotting down something in a notebook also makes you look 87% cooler.
5. Read Things You Never Thought About Reading. Of course, the biggest piece of advice to budding authors is to read. Many writers interpret this as advice to enjoy more of the books or magazines they already like but, really, the way to grow your inner writer is to get outside your comfort zone and read the stuff you normally would never touch. Grab that romance novel your best friend won’t shut up about, pick up a gossip tabloid at the checkout or finally break down and read Harry Potter. Getting out of a reading rut will open your mind to new ideas and can give you some insight as to how other professional and successful authors write. If you end up reading something really bad, write a parody of it to get those creative juices flowing.