2 Steps: How to Be a Better Writer

Girl


  1. Read a lot.

  2. Write a lot.

Need more to go on?

Okay.

  1. Read many genres, not only your favorites. You can learn something from everything you read, especially what you dislike.
  2. Set specific, realistic, and challenging writing goals. Then hit them.

Rinse and repeat.

Is this blog too short for you? 

Well, this might be the most profound thing you’ve read if you have the balls to act on it.


Question(s) of the day: Do you have the balls? What writing goals do you set for yourself?

11 Comments

  1. Hello there. I wanted to tell you that I really love your site. It may not be as famous as the Write Practice and co., but it is really great and ur advice is always to the point. Please try to publish more content because I find what you write useful and motivating.
    I was very ambitious about my writing goals. I had an idea for a novel, I did some research, wrote some notes and then embarked on writing. I downloaded Writeometer and was very enthusiastic about the whole thing. I decided to write 2500 words a day and did it for some days, then I realised that my novel was actually not that good. I felt it needs time to ferment, so I stopped writing and went back to building a daily writing habit. I keep a journal and write daily (well, to be honest, I skip some days from time to time, but I intend not to do that again ), and I have a blog and write there from time to time. My writing goal now is 1000 words a day. I dream of writing novels, but I feel this have to wait for some time. What do u think? What do u recommend?

    • bdschmitt

      October 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Hey Samartulba! I’m so glad you find this helpful! Thank you for sharing with me. Happy to help! You have some good habits. Writing every (or nearly every) day is vital.

      Short answer: If you want to write a book, then you can write your book.

      Long answer: This is your first book. It’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever attempted. You NEED to structure the crap out of it so you know where you’re going. Ten years and ten published books from now, you might find that due to your experience, you’re able to “write from the hip” as it were, and complete a cohesive piece without a plan. If that’s the case, then go for it.

      But, if you’re running into trouble and it’s falling apart, then you need to attack this thing from another angle: get a book for recommendations for how to structure your novel. Learn a bit of the theory behind it, then spend a month outlining your novel. The concept is: if you know your characters well enough, you won’t be “caged” by your outline, because you know your characters well enough by the time you write the outline to stay true to their character. If this is the case, then writing will be so much easier because you just need to hop from plot point to plot point.

      As far as a word count goes, the number doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it’s both challenging and realistic to YOU. No one can tell you what yours should be. After getting over writer’s block, I’m setting 300 words a day as my goal. It’s so small it’s difficult for me NOT to write it. If I tried to do 1,000 per day after some time off, I’d run out of steam quickly. I’m ramping up to that. For some people, 2,500 is sustainable and they can do that in 2 hours.

      I’m a slow writer, so I need more time. If I were you, this is what I would do:

      1. Read 10 blog posts on story structure. (Based on what you told me, I think you need to. Some people don’t. If that works for them, awesome.)
      2. If you understand tension, plot points, and other story elements, then move forward. If you don’t fully grasp these yet, buy a book on structuring. It will go over the theory and help you understand how to incorporate those core elements into each scene and really make them pop.
      3. Outline your novel in about 30 days. Basically just don’t outline forever. Do it quickly. You can buy a worksheet to outline from or you can use your own method like notecards, spreadsheet, etc…
      4. Set reasonable, challenging, and sustainable writing goals. If 1,000 words a day works for you, go for it. If it doesn’t, then tweak it.

      Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions! =)

  2. Thank u very much for the quick, and very helpful reply. I think I do need to lower my daily writing goal if I wish to write a good book. Actually, what made me think of writing 2500 words a day in the first place was the writer of the book called No Plot? No Problem. I did not intend to be in Nanowrimo or anything but I said to myself; why not write a novel in a month? This was because I never finished a novel that I started and thought it would be great to finish a novel even if the quality is not that good, but what happened is that I found that I was just running a frantic race. I was no longer happy while writing. I didn’t like what I was writing. I didn’t feel it was as beautiful as I pictured it. So I finally stopped. But I think it would be great to take a month to plan and outline, because as I told you I felt that I didn’t take my time to outline so, in addition to feeling dissatisfied with the quality, I felt that I reached a dead end when the parts based on planning were written down and I had nothing more to say.

    Thanks a lot for the advice.

    And one more question; do you recommend a certain book, or certain books on structuring a novel?

    Finally, thanks for everything, and thank you for this great blog. 🙂

    • Sorry it took me a bit to reply to this – had a busy day!

      I totally understand your pain with that one, samartulba. Not structuring can easily lead to a mushy plot that deviates from the central theme and the end result is usually diluted and tepid.

      I own a book on structuring, but it’s been so long since I’ve read it, I really can’t give it my personal recommendation for it’s quality. I’ve educated myself over the years from tidbits here and there, trial and error, and blogs. Obviously it’d be much more time-effective to have it all condensed into one place (a book) since you’re wanting an introduction into how it’s done well.

      This book is on my reading list. The author, K.M. Weiland, has a phenomenal blog, and anything that she writes is golden. So I’ believe this book will help you a lot:

      http://www.amazon.com/Structuring-Your-Novel-Essential-Outstanding/dp/0985780401

      Let me know how it goes, and I’m more than happy to answer any other questions you have on writing! =)

  3. It’s true. If a writer wants to improve, they need to practice, and they need to learn from the masters, which means that they need to read other people’s works, see how they do it.

    • Amen! Preach it! Haha. Unfortunately I find a lot of writers who ignore the “read often” piece. They’re just inhibiting their own growth. Heck, some don’t even read novels in the genre they write in. (Sigh) It’s a crazy world.

  4. My writing goal? Get my behind in the chair. If I hit that mark, I’m good to go.

  5. bad ass – and very true. Love short and to the point to get me into action. 🙂

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