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    Home Articles

    Improve Your Writing

    None of us will be brilliant writers the moment we first pick up a pen or hit the keyboard. Itís a fact. Weíre beginners and while some will be beginning with better skills and understandings than others, none of us will be the best writer we can be.

    Improving your writing is one of the great parts of being a writer. Thereís no greater feeling than picking up a story you wrote a year ago or even six months ago, picking up all the mistakes you made and realising you donít do it any more. I bet you can go up to any well known writer and ask them what they think of the first thing they published and the response will be something along the lines of: "Iím glad it was published because it got me started but quite frankly, I read it now and I shudder."

    It can seem overwhelming, when you consider how good you want to be and how far you need to go to achieve it. A famous quote is that you need to write a million words before you can be a good writer. The follow ideas will help you make steady progress in your writing and achieve that aim of being the best you can be.

    1. Practise, practise, practise. Yes, youíve heard it all before. Write every day. Or at least regularly. And itís true. Writing is a skill and like all skills, will only improve if you practise. If youíre only going to write once a month or will write ferociously for several weeks and then not again for six months, you canít expect your writing muscles to develop. Even if itís only one hundred words a day (and that will only take ten minutes or so), write as often and as regularly as you can.

    2. Pick one weakness and work on it. Donít try to improve every aspect of your writing all at once. The first thing I decided to work on was Point Of View (POV). I got books, asked questions in online forums and wrote a lot, focussing my attention simply on POV. I not only got a handle on POV but found the style of POV that best suited my writing.

      Once youíre feeling confident about that area, pick another one and focus on it. Sometimes, you might only need a week or two to get a handle on an idea. Sometimes, it might take you months before you feel really comfortable with the way your writing looks and sounds.

      The great thing is, even though you are focussing on one subject, the amount of writing you do will see small improvements in other areas as well. So you almost kill two birds with one stone.

    3. Experiment with your writing. Each month, set yourself a challenge to do something different. May itís to write a story in first person when you normally use third. Maybe itís to try writing your story as a transcription of a tape rather than as an observer of the story. Maybe itís to try and write one hundred words as one sentence.

      You will end up with interesting ideas, new areas that you need to look at and perhaps will discover a skill that you didnít know you possessed.

    4. Write short shorts. Nothing will test your writing more than trying to tell an entire story, with good characterisation and plot, in five hundred words. You learn the value of words, the importance of right word at the right time. Even if you think you canít possibly do it, try it. It gets you thinking about your writing in a way that writing a novel doesnít, and you canít help but see what your strengths and weaknesses are.

    5. Get involved in critiquing other peopleís work and having your own critiqued. It is amazing how you can pick up errors in other peopleís work that you cannot see in your own. Youíll learn a great deal from the process. And for your own work, a good idea is to ask for questions about a particular thing. For example: Iím not sure how clear the description is in this piece. Can you clearly see what is going on? Get your critiquers to focus on the skill you are focussing on and then you can receive their comments without being concerned that they are attacking you or your baby.

    Take your time to improve your writing. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. No oneís going to come back at you in ten years and say "How can she be on the New York Times Bestsellers List? Look at the crap she wrote in 2003." Except maybe you.

    Copyright © 2003 Nicole Murphy

    Nicole Murphy is a writer and copy editor. She can help you develop your writing skills by copyediting and critiquing your work. Try a free trial at

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

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