5 Activities that Make You a Better Writer

5 Activities That Make You A Better Writer

Instead of telling you how to improve your writing, let’s talk about what you can be doing right now to get better…

Being a writer is tricky, especially if you’re actively seeking out ways to improve your skill. I know that every time I go online to find advice on writing, hundreds of experts are going to tell me hundreds of different things.

I don’t feel like doing that today. Instead of telling you how to improve your writing, I want to give some tangible advice on what you can be doing right now to get better at writing.

See, I learn better through experience, and a lot of you may be the same way. Here are the activities that I find myself doing all of the time (and things I’ve been doing for a long time) that have been a tremendous influence on my growth as a writer.

5. JOURNALING

I bring this up because I bought a new journal today. It’s a leather-bound journal that was made in Italy, which means it’s the most attractive item on my desk. Obviously, I get pretty excited about journaling, and not for the reasons you probably think.

When people think of keeping a diary, they typically dwell on the idea of jotting down the mundane things you do every day. Don’t get me wrong, I like to write about events in my life, but I would never keep a journal if that was all there was to it.

Journaling is best done without structure. I jot down thoughts, struggles and emotional turmoil. I write down the things I want to say but don’t feel like sharing with other people.

I confess things in my journal. I identify things I don’t like about myself, or guilt I have for something I’ve done. I write about chance encounters with beautiful women and odd situations I find myself awkwardly implanted into.

Journaling is a best-practice for writing because of all these things. When you start writing for the sake of catharsis (or in other words, for you), you begin to actually enjoy writing across other avenues.

I know when I write, my thoughts tend to clutter what I’m trying to say. When I release my emotions in a focused way through my journal, however, I find myself being far better at writing apart from my emotions.

Make any sense? Let’s hope so, because next…

4. ISOLATION

Sorry fellow extroverts, but isolation is an activity that vastly improves your writing. When I say isolation, I’m referring to your environment. Going into nature just to write is a way for you to bombard your mind with new senses.

There’s nothing wrong with writing in crowded places or at home, especially if that’s your preference. But take time every once in a while to seclude yourself and empty your mind. Because life can be so distracting, you can find a type of solace in the rhythm of nature, allowing you to focus more effectively on what you’re trying to write.

Creativity is far better fostered this way, and you’ll improve your ability to incorporate sensory into your writing, a skill that is quite difficult to learn.

3. TRAVELING

It doesn’t take a lot to convince people that they should travel, but this is still a helpful reminder. Traveling brings about new experiences, and new experiences expand your mind.

The more expansive your mind is, the more things you actually have to write about. It’s simple logic, and it absolutely works. Every time I find myself feeling the onset of writer’s block, I actively pursue new experiences. They allow me to absorb new ideas, people and stories that spur my creativity.

Obviously, the farther you travel, the more likely you are to learn a lot. If you really want the most out of a trip, consider journaling throughout and keep track of what you experience.

2. READING

You can’t be much of a writer if you don’t read as much as you write. For one thing, reading is an ongoing method of cementing your grammar knowledge and improving your vocabulary. It’s also helpful for keeping the flow of your sentences fresh and evolving.

Of course, you should read all kinds of books and anything that interests you, but if you’re not much for reading things on paper, try turning on the subtitles/closed captioning.

I love television as much as I love to read (I basically just love stories), and ever since I was a kid, I’ve always put subtitles on when available. The results are pretty hard to argue with. I thrived in grammar, reading comprehension and spelling all throughout my education due in no small part to the simple act of all always finding an excuse to read.

1. WRITING

You may be thinking this is unnecessary to point out, but I know for a fact that people reading this article don’t realize how much writing it takes to improve at it.

Have you ever read something you wrote a few years ago? It probably makes you cringe (I know it does for me). That’s because time is on your side when it comes to writing. Practice makes perfect and all that (although perfect practice is what actually makes perfect, but whatever).

So, how can you get this done?

Let’s take blogging for instance, if that’s how you want to exercise your writing itch. Do you have multiple blogs, but only update them every once in a while? Well, you may need to cut that out, because for a lot of us, it’s much more fruitful to focus on just one blog and update it frequently.

Posting once a week is the bare minimum in my view, but three times a week is what you should really strive for. That said, I don’t usually recommend that you post five times a week. Most of the time, we write a lot for our blogs at first and then lose interest.

This happens because after the honeymoon phase, we realize that updating a blog five times a week is pretty exhausting. Instead, try scheduling ahead when you feel the itch to write a lot. Spreading your posts out gives you more time to breathe and feel like you have control over when and what you want to write.

Eventually, you may find yourself ready to do more and able to write much more consistently.

Are there any activities that you recommend for better writing? Tweet to me about it or comment below.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you say something really witty. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

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17 Replies to “5 Activities that Make You a Better Writer”

  1. Your article is really helpful. I am writer and I am sure it will help me in future 🙂 thanks for sharing it

    • You really should! I plan on saving all of my journals and passing them onto my kids before I die.

  2. Now I know why I feel suffocated after my husband retired.

  3. I like your idea about stretching your creative legs by blogging. I think it is the perfect medium for folks like me with random thoughts bouncing around in my head and if even one other person reads it, it feels validated.

  4. I think you have pretty much covered everything. 🙂 Hanging out with writers, perhaps?

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  7. Reblogged this on that90skid and commented:
    Of all the articles I’ve read about becoming a better writer this one actually helps.

  8. I used to journal but got out of the habit… so it’s time to find them, dust ’em off, and read a few pages. I’m sure it’ll be painful… for multiple reasons. One being that my son was still alive in some journals, and another, because he died from childhood leukemia at age 9 and I’m pretty sure I emptied my soul on nearly every page of at least one journal. (Journaling did NOT help me in my grief, but was a form of wallowing and extending it.) I obviously needed to travel more and get outside myself. Which I have since done.

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  10. Good ideas, here. My own idea is to let your characters tell you the stories of their lives, their experiences, the family stories that get passed down, etc. Especially if a character is “foreign” in some way, physically foreign as in coming from a different county & culture, or temporally foreign as in coming from a different time period. The genre doesn’t have to be sifi or fantasy or historical at all. Every person you meet has ‘stories’ they tell. Listen to your characters tell you their stories just like you’d listen to your friends and family. A person’s stories define them. Listening to your character’s stories will define them in ways that will make them very realistic.

    • Combine listening to your characters with journaling.. let your character do some journaling.

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