Do you wish you could get further with your writing?
Perhaps you want to:
- Finally finish that novel that you started ten years ago
- Improve your spelling and grammar
- Make money from your writing
- Have a popular blog with lots of readers
- Publish a non-fiction book to support your business
- …or something else entirely.
Whatever your writing goal is, follow these four steps and you’ll find yourself making much faster progress.
#1: Write More Frequently
You don’t have to write every day, but you do need to write regularly. Be honest: how often do you write? If it’s less than twice a week, you’ll probably find yourself struggling to make any meaningful progress.
The great thing about writing frequently is that small steps really do add up. For instance:
- If you write 500 words three times a week, you’ll have 78,000 words after a year.
- That’s a whole novel.
- If you write two blog posts every week, you’ll have 104 blog posts after a year.
- If you write just 200 words every single day (about two paragraphs), you’ll have 73,000 words after a year. That’s enough for three non-fiction ebooks.
Do it: Decide on a time and place for your writing. Aim for at least two sessions per week, and a total of 1,500 words every week.
#2: Edit After You Write
There are two traps that writers fall into with editing, and both cause problems:
- Editing while writing
- Not editing at all
If you edit while you write, you’ll struggle to get anywhere. You’ll write a paragraph or two and immediately delete them because you think they aren’t good enough. It’s much more efficient to simply write until you’ve finished the article, chapter or scene that you’re working on. You can edit later.
If you don’t edit at all, your work won’t be as good as it could be. Nobody can write a perfect first draft. Your writing might need just a quick polish, or it might need a radical overhaul: either way, editing is essential – after you’ve written.
Do it: Next time you write, don’t stop to edit. Keep moving forwards. When you do finish, print your work out and read it through on paper: this makes it easier to spot mistakes and things that you want to change.
#3: Learn New Techniques
Whatever type of writing you do, there’ll always be something new to learn. Great writers aren’t born that way: they become great through conscious practice and through deliberately developing their craft.
There are all sorts of things you can learn, either from books or from taking a writing course. For instance:
- Freelancers: How to write great sales copy for clients
- Novelists: How to write dialogue
- Bloggers: How to write guest posts to bring in more readers
- Poets: How to use different formal structures
Do it: Pick ONE new writing skill that you want to gain, in order to take your writing further. Look for a book or course that could help you. You’ll need to set aside time to learn and time to put what you learn into practice.
#4: Get Help and Support
Writing can feel like a very lonely activity at times – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Help and support from other writers will make a huge difference to your chances of success: it’s much easier to write regularly when you’re part of a supportive community.
Your local area may well have a writers’ group that meets regularly: try looking for adverts in your library or in bookstores, or search on Meetup.com. If there isn’t a group nearby, how about starting one yourself?
If it’s not easy for you to meet up face-to-face with other writers, you can find hundreds of different writing communities online. As well as giving you the opportunity to ask advice and share tips with other members, these also often allow you to share your writing and get feedback.
Do it: Look for a writers’ group locally or online, and consider joining. If you’re not sure about joining a formal group, try searching for other writers on Twitter.
Ali Luke is a writer and writing coach, and has just launched a new community and teaching site, WritersHuddle.com. The doors are open until 31st January. Inside, you’ll find mini-courses to help you learn new skills, forums where you can interact with other members, and lots of other goodies too. Make sure to check it out.