How do I become a better writer? How do I improve my writing style? How do I learn to write goodly words that make people feel emotional stuffs and their eyes bleed rainbow butterflies of beautified wonder?
These questions, or questions very much like these, are on every budding writer’s mind. I don’t think they ever really leave, no matter how many long or how much you write. I think they were some of the last thoughts in the minds of writers like Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, and Stephen King.
(Oh, Stephen King’s still alive, you say? Silly mistake. I’ll get my people right on that.)
If you’re here, it’s either a) because you came here to vituperate the mind-numbing and clickbaity title, 2) because you finally tracked me down and are even now lurking outside my window as I write, or hopefully γ) because you, too, are swirling these thoughts in your mind like a bitter wine.
So what does it take to write better? There’s a lot that could help you improve, and every writer has their own idea of what that is. What it boils down to is this:
Read. Read read read read read read read. Till your arms fall off and your eyes ooze out of their sockets. Read as much and as often and as long as you can. Read anything. Just like a baby learns to speak by hearing other people do it, baby writer, the best way to learn to write is by seeing awesome people put awesome words in awesome books.
Write. Write write write write write write write write write write write. Write trash. All the trash. Make your garbage man think you’ve been murdering trees and disposing of the bodies. Or fill up the Recycle Bin on your computer until it looks like Microsoft Word puked in it. Write like you can’t stop, until it becomes second nature to you. This is something that never ends. The greatest writers in the world wrote trash, and still write trash every time they write. It’s part of the process. You write good stuff and bad stuff and throw out the bad. So just write as much as you can humanly write and somehow, somewhere, sometime, you’ll write your way into some pretty good writing.
Listen. Also important. Again, like a baby learns by listening, so must you. Listen to the way people talk, the way they use words. In conversation, on television, in movies, in the news, in the grocery checkout line while the old lady ahead of you is yelling at the cashier, something about her 48 coupons. You don’t need to suction-cup your feet to the eaves of a coffee shop and listen to the private conversations of passersby, but that’s certainly an option. Just remember I’m not responsible for your safety, kiddies.
Now you’re well on your way to being a much better writer than that guy who write the title for this article. No idea who did that. Huh. Well, I’m going to go hide in a dumpster and listen in on some street hustlers. There’s an awful lot of paper in here.
Must be writers nearby …
Stay writerly, minders.