Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB
Toward the end of last month, Write to Done had an article (no author’s name given) emphasizing 3 habits that separate good writers from “Tragic Wannabes” — it suggested 3 essential steps to better writing: study, practice and feedback.
Personally, for study, I would suggest workshops and classes, though heaven knows there are also plenty of books out there. Libraries don’t always have the most current info on writing, but they’re free. Community Ed classes often have writing offerings. So do outreach programs from colleges and universities, which may also offer short courses or conferences. Local writers organizations often sponsor workshops, conferences, even contests.
I began my personal “study” program through the League of Utah Writers some time in the late ’70s. Since then I’ve gone to workshops sponsored by the League, by colleges and universities, and by local writers groups. Occasionally some are free, or VERY low cost. When they get up to as much as 5‑7 days long (or more), or they are being taught by highly touted authors/editors/ agents, etc., they are more pricey. But, any way you look at it, you’ll find dozens of options.
Writers should write. Every day. My current favorite go‑to daily source is 750words.com, which is free for a month. You are sent a reminder every morning. They have on‑line “badges” for starting, having streaks of varying numbers of days without missing a day, number of words written, and so on. When you finally have a “streak” going, it’s pretty motivating to keep it up. If you choose to “belong” to the 750, it’s only $5 a month after the first month. Try it as a freebie! What have you got to lose? For those who have a lot of stick‑to‑it‑ivness, just do it on your own. EVERY day. Without reminders. (Or badges.) Or talk a partner into doing it with you — keep challenging each other. Just Do It, as they say!
Never underestimate the value of re‑writing! Take some of your good pieces, and rewrite to make them have more punch. Rewrite to boost characterization of your main character. Rewrite to take out the dross which was only an information dump (info dump) anyway.
Classes will generally give you feedback. Some workshops, or workshop sessions will also. If you take a class, check with your new friends to see who would like to start a critique group with you. It can be in person once a week. Or on‑line, in a chat room, or even by phone. In my opinion, if they’re only willing to meet/critique once a month, it’s not worth it. That’s too long between critiques to get much accomplished. I’m happily aware of two or three critique groups who started by meeting each other in writers classes which I taught in a community ed. setting.
It’s usually not a good idea to get feedback from close relatives or friends. Of course, your mother thinks your writing is brilliant. Your siblings are dazzled by your outpourings. Your best friend won’t tell you what she “really” thinks. Start with “relative” strangers: people you meet in classes and/or workshops. Join a writers’ group like the League ‑ pretty much every state has them.
Study, Practice, Feedback, and your writing will improve! Give it a shot!
See you next time for Thinking on Thursday!