Becoming a better writer is not as easy as taking a walk in the park or buying some goods off Amazon. It takes more.
When I started out writing intentionally, every resource I saw, and answer to the question “How can I become a better writer?” came with the sharp rebuff, “Just write.”
I liken this advice to giving breast-milk to babies, but there comes a time when the child will no longer be satisfied with milk. Strong food is needed.
Telling someone to “Just write” to become a better writer can also be likened to telling a Primary school student to appear for a Job Interview just because there is a vacancy.
If you’re going to ever be an exceptional writer, you have to go for the long run and not the short run.
The advice to “Just write” will only get you so far before you give up.
When you are told, “Just write,” the next question should be “Write what?”
A young aspiring writer asked me a couple of weeks ago, “How can I become a writer?” In that moment, I knew what he needed wasn’t to simply tell him to go home and start writing whatever comes to his mind.
I schooled him in less than 10-15 minutes on the fundamentals of writing.
So, what should you be doing instead?
1. Find your message:
Do you have something you are passionate about? If you could talk about something endlessly with much enthusiasm and grit, what would that be?
Every great writer has a message. There is something that resonates with them. In their writings, you’d see a flow, feel their heartbeat and sense what they are most passionate about. It may be fiction or non-fiction. It may simply be humor, jokes and fun talk about everyday happening. Our very own Linda Ikeji built her niche around gossips.
Your message fuels you, drives your writing and makes you outstanding in an ocean full of other writers.
I started out talking about Talent. I realized that many people underestimated what they had and overestimated what others had. So, I eventually wrote my first Ebook titled “I got just one talent…” I’ve written others since then. Today, I write to inspire, to teach, and instruct my audience in areas of business, relationship, and faith. I want people to read my posts and get up to do something or at least to have an alteration in their perspective -for good.
What is your core message?
You are not a writer just because you write. You are one because you always have something to write about. You can never run out of what to write when you write from what is deep within you.
2. Live out your message:
When you’ve found that which resonates with you strongly, you must live it out. What are your values? What are the principles that hold your life together? In the application of these principles, you will have even more to share with the world. When you write about the ongoings in your life, it endears people to you and helps them connect to your message very easily.
You know, a quote says, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” I say “No one cares how great your writing is until they know how great you are.”
Do you get the drift?
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3. Treasure your experiences:
Ever read that line of scripture that says, “Wisdom cries out in the streets”? I’ve not ceased to be intrigued by that scripture.
It says a lot.
Do you know every of our life’s experience is loaded with wisdom waiting to be found by us?
I picture that there are acres of diamonds in every place we go and in every thing we do. We only need to see it. Some of the scenes we read about in fiction novels were borne out of experiences of the writers. They only wove their experiences into beautiful stories that captivate our minds today.
Treasure everything you go through.
“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you” says ― Neil Gaiman.
You should ask yourself (as you reflect on your daily life): What can I use this for? What can I make out of this?
Remember the post I made on “Police guns and whatever it has to do with writing”?
That’s how it came and several chapters in books I’m currently developing.
You’ve heard that “Leaders are readers” right? If you are ever going to be a writer, you have to read, read and read. Stephen King (A veteran writer and published author of several classics and Best Sellers) said: “If you are going to be a great writer, you have to read a lot and write a lot.” Sadly, he also said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.”
We learn to write by reading. Do you have a library? How many books do you read in a year? Just a few? You may be far from becoming better in the craft.
You can’t just write when you have not yet read. Now may just be the time to start taking a book everywhere you go to. I take a book with me everywhere I go. I read in the toilet too
When you read the works of other writers, it is a mark of honor, reverence, and appreciation for their craft. Your mind, perspective and world view are altered and widened by the books you read.
The more informed and inspired your mind is, the better your writing becomes.
5. Then, write it. Keep writing it and never stop
Now, you can write non-stop. Get a journal, a diary or something you can always write in. For me, I write every single day -not only because that’s my job as a Ghostwriter, but because it is a means of distilling the many thoughts in my mind. When a book is out of reach, I flip out the Google Keep app on my phone or Tablet and write quotes that come to mind, write titles of blog posts or story ideas for books I’m currently working on.
I’m always writing something.
The reason why you may not have improved in your writing is because you have only been writing and not doing the other 4 things listed above.
What will you begin to do from today?