If you’ve always wanted to share your thoughts and ideas and stories with the world, then surely you’ve asked yourself this simple questions: How do I become a better writer?
Well, even though it takes years and years of practice, following these five simple steps will drastically improve your writing.
1. Steal (like an artist)
William Shakespeare stole his plots from Greek and Roman plays, George Orwell stole the main theme for Nineteen Eighty-Four from a little know Russian writer by the name of Yevgeny Zamyatin. Alexander Dumas stole the characters for The Three Musketeers, and Thomas Jefferson plagiarized the Declaration of Independence.
But the thing is that there’s an art to this. Or is it simply praying not to get caught?
All jokes aside, I believe that it is important to get rid of one of the most persistent myths: that of being original. It is damn near impossible to be original, and it’s important to accept this.
Copying other people’s works is lazy. Changing it in a way that it becomes yours actually requires brain power.
2. Read (everything)
Sounds simple enough. Read everything that you can get your hands on. Books you love, books you loathe, books about subjects that you are passionate about, books about subjects you couldn’t care less about. Stories, poems, plays, tv scripts, you name it.
Read, read, read.
3. Use shorter sentences
Think Hemingway, one of the greatest authors of all time.
Writing short, simple sentences allows you to focus on the essence of what you are trying to transmit. Also, unless you’ve been writing for decades and have the vocabulary to back it up, you won’t be able to write long-winded, comma-filled sentences that make much sense.
If you want to write better then it’s best to write short, simple sentences. No fluff. No additives.
4. The road to Hell is paved with adverbs
The King mentioned this in his memoir, On Writing.
It is not an easy rule to enforce. Especially when you’re starting out, when it makes sense to use adverbs as descriptors, as a way to add a certain depth to your writing. In fact, they dilute the writing, making sentences less powerful.
So, yeah, delete as many adverbs you can. All of them would be nice.
5. Make people feel
Even though Grammar Nazis will penalize you for not knowing the difference between your and you’re, or missing capitalizations, and even misspelled words, but if you tell a great story your readers will find it in their hearts to forgive you.
I’m not saying that it’s okay to be careless when it comes to editing for spelling and grammar, but the idea is that telling a compelling story, making your readers feel strong emotions, all that is at the heart of writing.
If you want to be a better writer, pour your heart and soul into your stories and the writing will somehow take care of itself.
People can feel passion. Trust me.
Writing is an art. It’s a frustrating process. It takes edit after edit and draft after draft to get it just right. But if you follow these five tips, you’re already on the track to becoming a better writer.
And, don’t forget: focus on the process of becoming better, not the obstacles in front of you, and you will become a better writer.