For those creative writers among us, the difficulty in producing quality writing is not so much in the generation of ideas, but the conveyance of them in such as way that they might be appreciated. To become a master of writing takes years, even decades, but to become an excellent writer requires just the appropriate amount of dedication, creativity, and knowledge. These three factors will make all the difference in your writing, and by emphasizing your development of these areas, you’re be an excellent writer in no time at all.
Dedication and creativity cannot be acquired by reading a blog post in them– these are elements that must be honed over time, and often require the perseverence and open-mindedness that is often determined by a person’s character, and character is not easily changed. However, knowledge is something that can and does change, and if you are taking the words of this post to heart, your knowledge of how to produce quality writing will likely change a lot, as the information listed below contains fresh insights that you may well have not even heard before, although much of what you read below is perhaps no more than a fresh look at age-old wisdom:
The first step to becoming a good writer is establishing a good foundation, formed in the training and upkeep of good literary habits:
1. Do a lot of reading, and be as well-rounded in what you read as possible. While the type of writing you do (or are intending to do) might be specialized, niche, or jargonic, quality writing is balanced, and cultured, and takes into account all relevant perspectives. The more reading you do, the better of a writer you become; what you ready becomes your repertoire as a writer.
2. Do a lot of writing. Even if you are a terrible writer, write anyway; even if you can’t think of anything valuable to say, write what you do think of– everyone has to start somewhere, and no one starts off writing masterpieces off-the-top-of-their-heard. Continue writing crap, and before you know it, that “crap” will evolve into beauty, and you will by that point have become an accomplished writer. Just as you should read a variety, also write a variety. Experiment with every type of writing– poetry, plays, journalism, fiction, and nonfiction; every different type of writing helps you to explore yourself as a writer, and as a person, and because a lot of writing tends to overlap these different types of writing, it will prove highly useful to be experienced in “eclectic” writing.
3. Know Your Audience: as explained in my blog post of the same name, it’s crucially important to take your readership into account when writing, especially when writing the final drafts, as good writing is worthless if it cannot be appreciated by those who read it. Read over your writing carefully, both as you write it and when editing it, putting yourself in the proverbial shoes of the type of people who will be reading your writing; put your writing in the contexts of its target demographics– women/men, white/black/asian, layman/white-collar/politician, Atheist/Christian/Buddhist, feminist/racist/anarchist– there are millions of different cultures in the world, and people are heavily influenced by the cultures they live in or conform to, and will be heavily biased by these cultures when they read your writing. You need to frame your words in such a way that best take advantage of these cultural differences, so that people might appreciate your writing in spite of their culture differences, or perhaps (if your mastery of this skill is great) to appreciate your writing because of them!
4. Eloquence: As expressed most eloquently in this post, your choice of words is key to writing powerful writing– ideally, to write as few words as absolutely necessary to properly convey the given ideas in your writing. Just as “a picture is worth a thousand words” due to the sheer magnitude of information it conveys in just a single object, It’s often better to use very few choice words instead of many informative ones; after all, even if your information is solid and your ideas are useful, if the reader gets lost in what they are reading, the value of your words will be lost also, and your words will only frustrate, bore, and confuse. By using great discretion in your words to get the point across instead of overwhelming your readers with data, your writing will become that much more valuable to its readership.
5. Elegance: Why complicate your ideas, when you can make the complex elegant? Elegance– the ability to express complex ideas in a profoundly simple way, is a necessary skill for good writers, especially when creating entire words of information. The reason why Anne Rice’s stories are more exciting to read than J.R.R. Tolkien, for example, is because Tolkien wasted far too many words trying to create a complex literary world, whereas Anne Rice gave the readers just what they needed to know to immerse themselves in her world, and dedicated the majority of her writing to the plot and character development, leaving the extraneous details of the setting to the readers’ imagination. The more simply you express your ideas– even if that simplicity comes at the expense of completeness, the more receptive your readers will be to it. Instead of trying to reveal all the ins-and-outs of your ideas, let the readers fill in the blanks; rather than spending much of your writing explaining and justifying your ideas, let the readers interpret and justify your reading for you!
6. Diction: One thing you learn from English classes at college, is that diction isn’t just a good thing to have for writing– it’s a fundamental necessity. Even if you have the most amazing ideas in the world, if you lack the vocabulary to properly express them, all that creativity will go to waste for lack of linguistic proficiency. Learning new words usually comes from reading (#1) and writing (#2) more, but it should be emphasized that this is one of important reasons why that reading and writing more is so important.
7. Experience: This aspect of writing often takes a bit more time, and often (depending on the scope of your writing) a bit more money than most amateur writers have; while become an excellent writer can be accomplished with just 1-6, #7 is necessary to become a master, in that only through actually experience life as relevant to what you’re writing about, can you accurately and powerfully convey your ideas on these topics. While many experiences are off-limits to the writer (i.e. pregnancy (for a man), murder, or extra-terrestial contact), getting as much and as relevant real-life experience one can get is essential to masterng writing. Traveling the world, living homeless, going on spontaneous adventures, and generally living outside the proverbial “comfort zone”– these are some of the things that will make you a better writer. the more unusual real-life experiences you have, the more experiences you have to draw from as a writer. After all, fiction is ultimately the product of an alternate version of reality; all fiction stems from real life, one way or another.
If you dedicate yourself to habitually developing all seven of these literary cornerstones, you will become a excellent writer– I guarantee it! There’s many, many other aspects of writing that are also essential to mastering the art that is writing, but these are the most important ones.