This article is dedicated to all those of you, who have discovered the beauty of the written word and the power it holds, as well as to the many writers who have influenced my own writing. A pen is mightier than a sword, if one knows how to wield it. Just like swordsmanship, a mastery over penmanship requires practice, introspection, and perseverance.
How to Get Better at Writing
I am in no measure an authority on writing and I do not claim to be. The writing tips shared here, are garnered from my own humble experience as a writer.
Reading is essential, if you want to enrich your writing style. Reading books, written by master writers, is like learning hands-on. It is akin to watching a sculptor work and learning to sculpt from him. It is about learning how he has given shape and form to his raw ideas and imagination. You can profit from studying narrative styles and literary techniques used by these amazing writers. The ease of expression and the beauty with which they spin the yarn of words and thoughts to create beautiful tapestries of stories, is awe inspiring.
Most of all, you should enjoy reading. Take in the book without analyzing in the first reading. Just experience the book and the story. First read as purely a reader should and the second time, read as a writer. If it's a novel, study how the plot is set and write about what appealed to you in the book. Join book clubs and discuss what you felt after reading. Analyze from the point of view of a writer and not just a critic. Study the core idea of the book, as well as the way it has been presented. Try doing this and see yourself evolving as a student of writing technique and literature.
To assist children in improving their writing prowess, read out stories to them and introduce them to the world of books. Encourage reading by gifting books and reading with them. Assisted reading, at the start, helps until they have picked up enough to read on their own. Once a kid is hooked to the opening into magical worlds, that books provide, he will stay hooked for life. Read as much as you can. Even though a kid may not take up writing, reading will give him joy and support him for life.
Observe and Reflect
Of course, just reading books is not enough. A special skill that great writers have, which they develop through practice is keen observation. They don't just observe, they absorb. They have an eye on what happens around them, at a personal and social level. They think about the underlying dynamics that makes the world the way it is. They are keen observers of people and are gifted with the power to empathize and understand them. They are basically very much interested in people, the things they do and yet have the ability to sit back and analyze impassively. A part of them is experiencing it, while a part is observing impartially. Learn to observe and reflect on what you feel about things. Take a stand and dare to form an opinion.
Research is the factor that makes your writing credible. If you are writing a short story or a novel, your in-depth research and detailing, makes your writing more real. When writing a report, it is obviously necessary to know all the facts clearly, before jumping to any conclusions. You may be high on emotion, imagination, and write flamboyantly, but without thorough research, it may all seem hollow. So, researching is vital for any writer.
Learn to Appreciate Artistic Expression
Writers and especially fiction writers are no different from artists who sing, paint, or dance to express themselves. It is just one more form of human expression. You may not be as gifted with the brush, as you are with words, but you can appreciate the thought and feeling behind the brush strokes of a great painter. What you could never express through words, may have been expressed through the plucking of violin strings or a beautiful musical composition. Watch plays, movies, dance performances, and listen to great music. Nourish the artistic expression within you, by learning to appreciate all forms of art.
Enrich Your Vocabulary
An exposition of improving writing skills cannot go ahead without a talk about vocabulary. I am not saying that becoming a better writer is learning to use big words and constructing abstruse sentences. No sir, nothing could be far away from the truth. Knowing more words is not important because you can bamboozle people with your obscure scholarship but because they sum up things excellently. There are some words in the English language that say things so aptly that no barrage of more words is necessary. To illustrate my point, let me say that it helps make your writing 'succinct'. Economical use of words, with maximum effect, is made possible through an enriched vocabulary.
Broaden Your Perspective
What makes great writers stand out is the broad perspective with which they see the world. They have a way of capturing the big picture, while not missing on the minor details. So, try to look at things from a broader perceptive.
Experience Life to the Fullest
A writer feeds off experiences. His real life experiences affect his thinking and therefore, his writing. You write better about something, that you have experienced or felt. You sound more true and convincing because what was written, was what you felt deep down inside. There needs to be a real person behind those words, who feels, laughs, cries and who lives his life, to the fullest. That is what makes your writing reach out. It is the sincerity and experience that makes your writing special.
Give Full Rein to Your Imagination
Imagination is our greatest gift. Writing lets you spin out whole worlds, from the fabric of your thoughts and imagination. You will be surprised with the number of possibilities, that a small imaginative twist can create in a story. Just give full release to your imagination when writing fiction. You have to believe in the imaginative worlds you create in your stories, if you want the readers to believe in them too.
There is no way to get better at writing, without actually beginning to write on your own. You may have big writer's blocks right at the start but perseverance will pay. Keep trudging ahead and keep writing about what you feel passionately. Let the confusion in your mind be portrayed on paper and let it get sorted out there. Think on your own and dare to write what you feel.
Introspection is the Key
To get better at anything, the key is introspection. You are the best judge of your writing. Have a close confidante, who can be your first reader and your first honest critic. Recognize positive criticism and improve accordingly. There is no end to the pursuit of excellence. Remember, the best is always yet to be.
Hope these tips set you on an introspective journey as a writer. Personally, I feel that being a better writer is synonymous with being a better person, a better observer, and living life truthfully.