How do writers grow? How can we keep improving, accepting new challenges, exploring new terrain? How do we prevent ourselves from slipping into a cozy, self-satisfied, stagnation, where we are saying the same thing or using the same form over and over again?
The first step is to learn more about You, The Writer.
Get out your journal or a new notebook and ask yourself the following questions:
What are my writing strengths?
What are my writing weaknesses?
Do I feel excited by what I write?
What do I want to write?
What is holding me back from writing what I want to write?
What are my goals for getting published?
If you wanted to play the piano would you sit in a room everyday without a teacher or music book?
Probably not. You would take lessons or read books on how to play the piano. Imagine just sitting there, banging on the keys without anyone to help you and dreaming of being able to play a symphony. Wouldn’t you feel discouraged after awhile that you couldn’t even play a simple tune?
Because everyone learns to write while growing up, (unlike the piano) we expect ourselves to become better writers without giving ourselves any of the instruction or tools we need to really succeed.
Thank G-d nowadays there are so many resources available for the serious writer. Developing the talents that G-d has given us can be an ongoing adventure.
And there are many ways to learn, grow and improve.
Here are some possibilities:
*Set writing goals each month
In your journal or date book, start out each month by writing down your writing goals. Select goals that are realistic for one month’s efforts. For instance, don’t state as a goal that you will write an entire book. Set for a goal that you will finish one chapter. You can push yourself, but your goals should be realistic. Look over last month’s goals and see what you achieved. If you didn’t reach last months goals, discover why. Were they harder than you thought? Did you lose interest in the task? Did something block you or stop you?
*Read other authors’ works
Read to get the feel of good writing, read and notice the scope, breadth and depth of the writer’s expression. Read to expand your mind to the endless possibilities that await you as a writer.
*Keep a small idea book handy
Keep it with you in your purse, or at home nearby, so that when you get ideas you have somewhere organized to place them. The more you write down your ideas, the more ideas will come to you.
*Join or start a writing group
You can learn and be inspired by other writers. Writing is a solitary profession; it can get lonely. Connect with a group. You can inspire and be inspired.
*Find one other writer with whom to share work and feedback
A writing chavrusa will help you stay motivated and develop your writing. For many it’s the perfect compromise between being in a group and being alone.
*Brush up on basic skills such as grammar and vocabulary building
Look over a good grammar guide. Use and browse through a thesaurus. Learn one new vocabulary word each day.
*Send your work out to publishers (don’t let those rejection letters stop you- they are your dues for being a writer)
Send them out, and train yourself not to feel too badly if they get rejected. It’s just all part of the writer training process. I
*Study books on the craft of creative writing
Books will give invaluable information. Practice incorporating what you learn into your writing.
*Take a creative writing course
The content and structure of a course will keep you moving forward.
*Work with a writing coach
A writing coach is there for you, she will help you move forward and help you become the writer you want to be.
And of course, write as much as possible!
Ideally you should do all of the above! But start with one. Try something new in your writing life. And keep growing as a writer!