Most people fail because they don't set aside time to practise it. They expect to be able to write well and shape their words without even having practised it. Compare this to running. If we can walk, we can run. But we're not all able to do a sprint or a marathon. If we want to do a marathon, we practise for one. We prepare. We get all the right equipment. We eat properly. We train. We find mentors and coaches. We analyse. And then, for 26 miles, we run. Even sprinters do this. 10 seconds running will be preceded by hours and hours of training, analysis, coaching and preparation. It's that practice that makes Average Joe into Usain Bolt.
My top ten tips for becoming a better creative writer are:
- Read. Read widely and broadly and experience a range of good writing.
- Gather and catalogue stimuli. Take photos, collect drawings, listen to people's stories and make notes afterwards. Keep a journal and add to it.
- Set aside time for inspiration. Actively seek out cultural experiences and rich environments and be mindful of what you see or hear or experience. Take it in and digest it.
- Find a mentor. Even if it's just someone whose work you admire. Learn about them and how they write. Analyse how they write and explore what you like about their writing.
- Talk to others. A writer rarely works in isolation. Seek out others who give you alternative views. It's easy to look for people whose ideas corroborate your own: they flatter and reinforce. Seek out your critics too. Take on board what they have to say. Giant peaks rarely exist in isolation. Everest is surrounded by other high peaks. It is on their backs that it stands.
- Make writing a habit. 10 minutes a day is fine to start. Write freely and allow yourself time to develop a natural style.
- Learn about writing. Learn the mechanics, the building blocks. Remember texts are like matter - they are composed of tiny elements that create a whole. Punctuation, word choice, sentence construction and paragraphs are just as important as the brush-strokes on a canvas, as molecules in metals. They make the whole what it is.
- Be reflective. Make notes about your writing. Comment on your own writing. Think about your writing. Deconstruct your writing.
- Make a change. Do something differently. It's easy to fall into patterns. Some artists favour clay or glass. Choosing a different medium for expression can alter and expand your viewpoint.
- Publish. Share. Writing's purpose is communication. It can be self-expression. It can be instructional but it is designed to be read. Practise getting your work read.