I love connecting with writer friends through social media. They’re always passing along wonderful advice in the form of helpful links. So the other day, I came across a mention of agent Chip MacGregor and his blog post about how to improve your writing.
I clicked on the link. Because a. who doesn’t want to know how to improve her writing? And b. I have a soft spot for agent Chip MacGregor. Not because he met me at the first writer’s conference I ever attended and said, “Holy cow, Cathy! I must sign you up today!” That would’ve been swell, huh? But honestly, I’m just glad that when he met me, he did not say, “Holy cow, Cathy! You call this writing?”
I had brought my first ever (children’s) manuscript for critique to that conference, and I thought it was awesome. Chip did not exactly agree. He was kind, though, and offered a few ideas as to how I could improve the story. Basically, it came down to me needing a lot more writing practice.
Which brings me to my point today (and coincidentally, Chip MacGregor’s point, as well): If you really want to improve your writing, you have to write. You have to write a lot.
I don’t mean that you have to sit down and write 3,000 words (although that’s certainly impressive, so good for you if you do!). I mean that you have to write regularly. You have to practice writing, pretty much every day. And I’ll add that you have to write for an audience.
It’s helpful if you write in a daily journal. But if you write every day, knowing that someone else will read your words, you’ll write with more care. Your grammar will be just a bit better, your word choice a bit stronger, your structure a bit more cohesive. Your writing will improve, whether you’re sharing it with a critique group, a contest judge, or the blog readers who follow your posts.
This weekend, I’m attending the Rutgers One-on-One Conference, and I’m taking several of my children’s manuscripts with me. Including that same, though much improved, story I put in front of agent Chip MacGregor, lo those many years ago.
Holy cow, I’ve put a lot of writing practice into that manuscript. (And honestly, it really is awesome now!)
And P.S. Please come say hello if you're there, too!