Haniel Dela Cruz is a self-proclaimed bookaholic. In other words, he loves books. Duh. His blog, Confessions of a Bookaholic, celebrates the written word with reviews, quotes and pictures, and even includes a pledge to “read the printed word.” (“Printed” being the objective word; it’s implied that, like me, Haniel would much rather read a printed copy of The Hunger Games as opposed to a digital version on an eReader.)
In an effort to ensure literary greatness prevails no matter the format in which it’s read, Haniel created a list of tips he feels may help one improve upon their craft. He says:
I’ve been searching the Internet for ideas and tips on how to become a better writer. I’ve compiled ten (from different websites) and I thought they might be of help for some other writers out there.
You may read his tips below.
- Read. The number one step for any writer is you must be a reader. If you already know what genre you want to write for (mystery, romance, nonfiction), then read mostly that type of work. This will not only make you a better writer, but you will also find yourself picking out pieces of writing “style” from other authors and combining them with your own. The result will give your own writing a unique style.
- To become a great writer, you must practice your craft. If you’re struggling to find the time to write, put writing time in your schedule. Many writers wake up early to write in what may be the most peaceful time of day. Find a rhythm that works for you and stick with it. Jot down ideas. Keep a notebook of some sort with you always. A small one in your purse or kept in your back pocket works great. Write down ideas that may come to you throughout the day. These could be story ideas, plot ideas, scenes or characters. If you see something or someone interesting, write it down in your notebook. You may never use it. But then again, you may.
- Take a writing course. Writing isn’t typically a self-taught profession. There are numerous resources you can pursue when you need formal training. You might enroll in writing classes at a local college or apply to a graduate writing program. If cost is an issue, seek out a free online writing course.
- Build your vocabulary. You’re bound to be more expressive when you write if you have more words at your command. When you come across a word you don’t know, take the time to look it up, then try to use that new word you’ve learned in your writing. You can also seek out vocabulary building exercises online to increase the number of words you have at your disposal.
- If you want to read about writing, you ought to pick up a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk. This influential guide to English and grammar is one of the most highly regarded books ever written on the topic. It includes eight elementary rules of usage, ten elementary principles of composition, a list of commonly misused words and other rules of form that you can’t do without.
- Find a balanced writer’s club. A writer’s club can be a great resource of encouragement and constructive criticism. But the key is to find one that is balanced. There should be a good number of established writers in the group that know the profession and can give sound advice. You also don’t want a club that dishes out all compliments or all criticisms. Find a club that offers both and pick and choose what comments to apply. Pay close attention, however, to the advice of your seasoned members.
- Good writing is rooted deeply in good research. It’s much easier to craft a well-written book, article or manuscript when you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. A good way to learn about the research practices of others is to study the bibliographies of books you read. Consider the sources other writers used and how they informed the text.
- Socialize with writers. Writers are misunderstood by the rest of the world. In fact, often individuals deciding to follow their dream of writing receive the most criticism from their own family. Socializing with other writers will encourage you and keep you motivated. This can happen in a writer’s club, classroom setting, conferences, or perhaps you have other friends who are pursuing their writing goals. Make these people essential in your life. They will often be a vital resource for you to tap into.
- There’s no pressure to improve your writing quite like having to share it with an audience. Forums for sharing your work are plentiful. You can read it at an open mic night, publish it on a blog or share it with friends. You may also consider sending your work out for publication. While the rejection letters every writer receives can be disheartening, your persistence will help you grow as a writer.
- Proofreading is just as important as editing. While spell check tools are helpful, they’ll often miss errors. Careless mistakes can cost you a job, embarrass you and ruin a good piece of writing. Always proofread what you write. Do it slowly and do it twice.
Haniel goes on to encourage writers to never give up. He recounts an incident where he began working on a story only to find out a similar idea had already been tackled. “This is my idea,” he says. “But I didn’t give up. I actually had more ideas when I revised it. Just be creative.”
Be sure to check out Haniel’s site, Confessions of a Bookaholic, linked below. And also hit him up on Twitter at @COABookaholic.