Wednesday, December 3, 2014

5 Things an Author Can Do to Improve Their Craft

You may be a gifted writer, but there is always something you can do to improve your craft.

I've worked with a lot of first-time writers. I've also edited authors who have been published before. One thing I have recognized is that it isn't too difficult to discern who has worked on learning their craft and who has decided they should publish their story before the ink has dried.

If you're an author who understands that we never stop learning (even after we've hit the best-seller list or won the Christy award), here are 5 things you can to do improve your craft:

Book Photo Courtesy of
1. Read more. Especially in the genre that you're writing. But don't neglect those you aren't writing. I am amazed at how much I learn each time I pick up a new book. I don't only learn what to do, either. I also learn what not to do. I'm sure you can relate. You've read those books you want to throw across the room, right?

2. Invest in your writing. Read craft books. Subscribe to Writer's Digest or The Writer. Follow writing blogs like this one. Take an online course. Attend a writers conference. Spend the time and maybe a little money to learn new techniques or improve on old ones.

3. Talk about writing with other writers. I've learned so much just bouncing my ideas off my friend, Edie Melson. Little "rules" I wasn't aware of. When I get stuck, my writing buddies know just the right nudge to get me out of my writing ditch and back on the road to a successful story. Don't isolate yourself to your computer screen. Make some friends and meet them at the coffee shop. Work is more fun that way.

4. Hire an editor. Find one who is professional. You could learn a lot from their edits or suggestions. I leave my authors a ton of comments and suggestions, and I provide instructional handouts for various issues many authors tend to run up against, like telling instead of showing or misusing punctuation marks. And if I don't know something, I'm not afraid to ask someone in my vast network of editors and multi-published authors.

5. If at first you don't succeed, try again. And again. And again. Practice gets you a lot closer to perfect than sitting in your chair whining into your coffee about how cruel people are or how much they don't "get you." Stephen King didn't become who he is as a writer by crying over his rejection slips. He worked hard and kept at it. Read his book On Writing if you'd like to know more about how he became who he is as a writer today.

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We'd love to hear from you! Do you have another tip about how to improve your writing craft? Leave us a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. Love this one. I might have to move to SC to get more of #3...

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