What does the progress look like? What does it take to get better at writing? Find out.
- You hate what you’ve already written:
This is the part where you realize better writing is yet to come. If you cringe every time you read something from year ago it’s because you see what’s wrong with it and that you want to fix it. Its progress enough that you can tell where your mistakes are even if no one else has noticed.
But what you need to understand is that even the sloppiest drafts are your work and effort and you better own it.
- You are better at organizing.
If you take notes as soon as you get an idea and you’re no longer slave to the habit of telling yourself that you don’t need to write it down because you’ll remember it. Then it means you’ve forgotten enough terrific ideas and no longer have the patience for all that.
You not only write down the ideas as they come. You keep them from becoming a big tangled mess. You know exactly where what goes. And you work on them. It’s not just storing ideas, it’s making something out of them.
“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
― Stephen King
You are now a step closer to being mature writer. Good for you.
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
― Saul Bellow
- You are a mean editor.
The writing part has to be free of limitations and expectations. But the editing part can cost you the whole thing and that’s alright. Editing is what determines in the end if you’re a worthwhile writer at all. You have to edit like you are your own ex-girlfriend. Anything less than awesome has to go.
“To write is human, to edit is divine.”
― Stephen King
- You know exactly what it means to not write the part you’d skip as a reader.
The part of any book you’ve read that you don’t remember reading. The part that you skipped because it got dry or complicated or was just plain digression. That part you look out for because you want to know what parts you don’t want to have in your work. You realize that you can learn as much from your writing failures as you can from that of other people.
- You are done with exclamation marks!!!
The only exclamation mark that is valid is the one in Panic! At The Disco. Everything else is stupid.
“One should never use exclamation points in writing. It is like laughing at your own joke.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Here is an appropriate use of the exclamation mark:
The last thing he expected when the elevator door opened was the snarling tiger that leapt at him.
In almost all situations that do not involve immediate physical danger or great surprise, you should think twice before using an exclamation mark. If you have thought twice and the exclamation mark is still there, think about it three times, or however many times it takes until you delete it.”
― Howard Mittelmark
Mostly what you need to understand here is that if you’ve been writing long enough you’d know the nook and corners of punctuation. If you have indeed matured as a writer you’re no longer allowed to have problems like this.
- You are not intimidated by the blank page.
Here is how you defeat the blank page. You start writing. You write whether there is a promising idea or there isn’t. You write every day even of it is just a paragraph and you never let the writer’s block define you. More than often, the great works come from desperate attempts to get over hurdles.
- You know what it is about shorter sentences.
And this is not one I can say I have mastered but I can tell you what a terribly long sentence does to the readers. It confuses them and confusion impairs interest. If you sentence says more than a paragraph’s worth of things, what do you expect the reader would do? Read it? Like it made any sense.
Shorter sentences with more paragraphs, should do the trick.
- You can create powerful descriptions
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov
You don’t want you reader to know the character was freezing to death, you need them to grab a coat or something. A great writer knows the importance of brutally honest descriptions. What you have to create is the sad that you feel when Harry uses his wand to write ‘Dobby the free elf’ on Dobby’s grave.
If don’t yet have the power to manipulate the emotions of your readers, you’re not going to have readers.
- You understand that it’s not about extending your vocabulary, it is about utilizing it.
If you’ve read Paulo Coelho you’ll know what I mean. The reader is not interested in the 50 different ways you can say that it was raining. What they are interested in is the choice you make from the fifty that will make them think of puddles and coffee right away. This does not mean vocabulary isn’t important. It just means you can say serious instead of grave and nap instead of slumber if it does any good in keeping the readers engaged.
- The research part is fun now.
If you are writing a book or if you’re planning to start writing one, you know about the research i.e. loads of books you have to read just so you can get an idea of how much work this is going to be. Maturing as a writer means teaching yourself how to enjoy what would otherwise just be dreaded homework. And what part you could you enjoy more than having a productive reason to be reading all the books you’ve been putting off for later. This way even if the writing process takes ages, even if the book just seems to never surface something great would’ve come from it.
featured image credit: IndieWire