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Whether you strive to be a bestselling author or simply enjoy writing short stories and novels for the fun of it, harnessing your creative writing skills and improving your capabilities are always important. Sometimes, prospective authors enroll in Creative Writing classes at university and end up graduating with a degree in English, Creative Writing or both. However, that does not mean you’ve mastered the skills and no longer need to improve them.

It is worrying the number of writers who fall prey to the victim of poor grammar and clumsy sentence structures; yet, they get paid for their work and do not bother learning the correct place to insert a semi-colon, etc. However, it is always essential to remember that writers are human, and therefore mistakes happen. This is why proofreading your own work can work miracles.

Brush Up on The Basics

As previously stated, it’s surprising the number of writers that get the basic principles of grammar, sentence structures and spelling wrong. Although writing can be subjective, and people believe that once you are a writer you can experiment and “break the rules,” it does not mean you can ignore everything you’ve ever learnt.

Kerouac may have used Beat style in his novel, On the Road, which allowed spontaneity and non-conformity. However, this style and “rule breaking” prose served a purpose. Long sentences created a sense of wild energy, and rambling paragraphs could express the character’s rambling personal and literal journey.

If you find yourself breaking the rules with little to no purpose, then you’re doing it wrong. Therefore, make sure to learn the basics so when the time to experiment with prose does arise, you are ready and now why you’re doing it.

Regular Practice Makes Perfect

If you want to get better at something, then make sure to practice. Writing is a skill you cannot shortcut when attempting to transform into an amazing writer. Therefore, try to write an hour a day, or if you are busy, half an hour could suffice; if you end up starting a story then scrapping it later on, this is still good practice. Even the most talented of writers had to learn the craft of writing over a period of many years.

Additionally, many good writers are also avid readers, and you can learn a lot by picking up a book. If you have an interest in a certain genre, make sure to learn from the bestsellers of that category. Not only could you learn how to write, but you can also learn how not to write. There’s a lot of novels out there which are questionable.

Attend Writing Classes

Writing classes can seem foreboding to some. However, taking a workshop does not mean you will be thrown into the deep end and expected to bare your soul to a room full of strangers. Instead, you will be entering a community of like-minded individuals who are there for the same reasons. By attending these classes, you can share ideas, ask questions on how to approach plotlines, etc. and receive feedback (remember, constructive criticism only, though).

This is a perfect way for individuals who maybe didn’t go to college or university to pursue a writing career. It is also a great opportunity for those who did and are missing their seminars and creative writing workshops.

Make a Plan

Once you are comfortable with your writing capabilities and have a novel outlined in your head, it is time to put thought to paper and write the story you’re itching to tell. Firstly, it is important to create an outline of events, write brief character descriptions, and include a rough timeline of events. This will allow you to stay on track and reduce the chances of contradictions while keeping your story consistent.

Edit

Your first draft will never be perfect, and sometimes it’s okay to admit it’s awful. Editing is one of the most important parts of becoming a writer, which is why skimming your work doesn’t cut it. Print off your draft and sit down somewhere comfortable and annotate and scribble whatever doesn’t sound (or look) right.

It is human to make errors, and making them doesn’t mean you’re an awful writer. Even the likes of J.K Rowling, Stieg Larsson and George RR Martin will need to review their work for the simplest grammar and spelling mistakes. However, unlike the amateur or aspiring writers, these bestsellers will have an editorial team standing beside them; finding their mistakes for them. This is important because it is hard to be subjective with your work and sometimes your eye for detail diminishes when it’s your own piece of writing. Therefore, consider asking a fellow writer or friend who has a great grasp of the English language to help edit your novel.

Persevere

Writing is hard, and trying to finish the novel you’ve been working on for the past month or couple of years can be trying. However, make sure to persist. Once it’s finished, you could be gracing those bookshelves and find yourself being considered one of the greats.

About The Author

Profile photo of Sophie Goodall

Originates from a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, UK. Graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London with a degree in English Literature and Creative writing. Aspiring novelist; lover of films and filmmaking; forever exploring a deeper meaning in everything. Travelled Australia and Japan, and am now a paid writer and editor.

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