Have you ever wondered how to improve your writing skills? As a professional writer, I often wonder if my writing is stagnating or if my efforts to improve my writing are really paying off.
Sometimes, my answer exists when I look back. The other day, I found an old college writing portfolio. I could tell I was young then. I suspect I am better now, after all these years of experience. Age is a good teacher.
Aside from that, there are some practical ways to improve your writing. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite methods.
My favorite way to improve writing skills is by performing writing exercises. Here are some of my favorites.
1. 15 minute freewrite. I set the timer for 15 minutes and write whatever is in my head.
2. 15 minute “in the present exercise”. Again, I set the timer for 15 minutes. This time, I write about everything that is happening in the present.
3. Random word exercise. Sometimes, I write random words on slips of paper. I pick one. I set the timer for anywhere from 5-15 minutes, and write about anything that comes to mind that was inspired by that slip of paper.
These exercise focus the mind and sharpen skills like description, focus, and they also help get rid of all the clutter that can fill up our minds and affect our writing.
Just Get Started
One barrier against improving my writing is stagnation. Sometimes, I have an urge to write a poem or an image may spark an idea for a story. But I hold back. I don’t write it because I need to fold the laundry, make dinner, brush my teeth. I can write it later.
Well, the problem with later is that the moment is gone. I lost the inspiration the moment I put away those towels or picked up my toothbrush and chose mundane activities over pursuing my craft. The truth is, those things can wait.
I wrote my best flash fiction story in less than ten minutes. I scratched out a poem once on a brown paper bag. I typed it up, sent it out, and that got published too. Those moments share the fact that I had an inspiration and I followed it.
So, if you have an idea, just get started. Write that poem on a torn piece of brown paper bag and don’t worry about how it comes out. You may have a gem, or it may have just been practice. Either way, you gave yourself a chance.
We all have a unique voice inside of us. All it takes is the will to let it come out. Those exercises I shared with you will help you build on those little moments of inspiration that arise.