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How do you become a better writer?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I've just bought two journals, The Writer and Writer's Digest, and I'm devouring them. I'm also reading in stop-start fashion The Art of Profiling by Dan Korem - just because it interests me to analyse people and their ways more closely - useful skills for a writer I think.

I have been writing simple parenting articles and political, newsy articles for a few years now. I don't think I'm a particularly good writer yet and I don't think I'm improving anymore. With four kids, I'm finding it hard to focus.

But those journals inspire me to think bigger and to hone my skills more. I want to tackle a bigger project and hopefully publish it. Carpe Diem!!

So what do *you* read/study/do in pursuit of bettering your writing? Share your tactics and maybe we can all benefit.
post #2 of 8
Keep a note pad with you and do 60% of your writing on paper so that what you type in is the cream of the crop.
Do not try to copy ayone elses style or flow, let the words fit right for you and your style of writing.
post #3 of 8
Hi Jodie,
I write articles for money too and was worried about my writing not improving. I'm doing a variety of things. Because some of my assignments become chores after they are assigned (everything is so exciting in the pitching stage!) I make sure I write just for the love of it once a week or so - for me my love is personal essays.

I also belong to two professional writer's groups and find these so inspirational. I work on goals and the craft of writing through these.

I also try to read more. I am trying to commit one morning a week to reading articles and trying to understand what I love about them or how I could write them better.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you for responding - both of you! I was hoping to be inundated with suggestions but I guess you've covered the essentials.

How does one become a member of a writer's group?

I like writing personal non-fiction too. Much of what I write there becomes fodder for my parenting articles which is handy for my process. I just don't give it the time it deserves and I still think me best reflections will come with a bit more maturity and hindsight, I'm only 36!!

I keep a gratitude journal in an on-line blog and get a lot of positive feedback from readers, which is encouraging but not satisfying my goal to improve.

So I took up writing modern haiku as a kind of exercise in word economy. At least it's something I can write everyday and if inspiration takes me, I can remember and transcribe it in a single action without getting too trapped at the keyboard wanting to write and write when dinner needs to be on the table in 10 minutes.

But what I really want is critique and I'm not getting it from anywhere. I had hoped to find it on this forum but there just doesn't seem to be much dynamic discussion going on here (hmm, maybe they're all busy mamas like me ).

Is a writer's group something that can be conducted via a yahoo group do you think? Or is it better/easier if it's face to face and social?
post #5 of 8
Hi Jodie,
There are a variety of different types of groups. Critique groups tend to be local and on line. I like local ones but the problem for me is they mainly deal with fiction or poetry. They are easy to form and often come out of community college writing classes (which are another great way to improve). Try doing an online search though.

I am a member of flx (http://www.freelancesuccess.com/) which is the best thing I have done. It helps with the business and craft of writing. Through it you can find goal buddies and critique groups as well as info on how to market your work.

I got 2 $1 a word jobs out of the first query letters I worked on there.

I also belong to a national writing group and we meet monthly with different editors who talk about what they are looking for etc. ASJA is the big US one, but there are others.

Most of these cost a bit of $$ but I find I get my investment back almost immediately
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks ceilydhmama. I think the time has come to throw a few $$ and a bit more dedicated time to my writing. Thanks also for the link. Online groups are my best option right now I think, with a baby at home and being a temporary resident here in the US. Hope to see you around the forum!
post #7 of 8
for fiction and poetry zoetrope.com is very good. in the flash fiction 'wing' you can post from 150 to 1000 words and get critiques. as with anything, most of the reviews are not very helfpful, but about 25% are, and eventually you find your own little niche and start relying on the reviews of several people who read you regularly, and that's enough.
post #8 of 8
I think yours is the best advice. I encounter a lot of people who talk about writing but then they arent' really readers. They come up with ideas and scenes but not plots and themes.

With that being said I am working on being a better writer. To me it is better to have written than to write. I wish it was in the past tense than a long laborious road a head of me.
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