Blog, Writing Advice

Being a Writer: Am I Doing it Wrong?

15 Mar , 2017  

Writing is an odd art form. While for things like drawing and painting there are clear tutorials and guides, for writing it is really difficult to know if you are progressing in the way that you should. No on gives you clear references of what being a “good writer” should look like.

It’s probably no surprise then that I’ve been asked on a couple of occasions:

Is there a wrong way to learn to write? Am I doing everything wrong?

The short answer is no! The longer answer is…

There's no right way to learn to write. There is only your way. Enjoy the journey. #WritingTip Click To Tweet

But there must be things that can lead you to advancing faster than others, right? First we have to dig into that question a little bit.

I get it. Learning to write can be a lonely experience, and the slog of developing your skills can seem brutal. I’ll let you into a secret:

 It took me ten years of practicing nearly every day to feel like I am reasonably good at writing. 

But I was learning without the massive amounts of information that are now open to us on the internet. I was also navigating some pretty tricky mental health issues. There’s no reason that feeling confident in your own skills should take that long. Remember, we’re not talking about being published here, though that might be your goal, but about feeling like you are writing at a level where you can start that next phase in your writing.

Even if the journey does take a long time though, having the confidence that you are doing what you need to do in order to grow your writing skills is going to be key.

In fact, the only cardinal sin in learning to write is not writing at all. #WritingTip Click To Tweet

You can fix everything else, but not that!

Quick and Dirty Tips To Get You Started!

There is no right way to be a writer learning their craft, but there are a couple of general principles you can use to test if you are moving forward with your writing.

 Observation  

Are you looking at what’s around you? Are you listening? Are you taking in good writing, for example by reading books and watching great films and quality television? These are all parts of filling up your brain with the little bits and pieces, the raw materials, that you can use to weave a story.

 Practice 

Are you dedicating as much time as you can reasonably afford to growing your writing? Something I use to motivate me is, if throughout the day, at any time, I am thinking about writing then I should be writing–even if that’s just scribbling a few words on my phone or running to my desk to take down a couple of notes. There is no “too little” in writing for pleasure. Every. Word. Counts.

 Feedback 

If you have a finished piece of writing, you’ve done an incredible job already and have probably made lots of progress toward becoming the writer you want to be. But how do you maximise the value of that writing exercise? Show your work to other people.

Now, I know that can be a really scary thing. I struggled with this for a long time, too. But when I joined a writing group, and when I started letting people see my work, it did two things. Firstly, it gave me confidence that there were things in my work that were good. Secondly, when there were things that I needed to improve, I got notes on that and I could then use those notes to feed back into my writing journey.

So don’t be afraid to let others critique you–and remember, even if someone does have a negative opinion about  your work, you’re the one who has created something, you’re the one who has dared to put it out there. Take that negative and spin it into the gold from which you can improve your writing practice.

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