The 3 Biggest Things You Can Do For Your Writing Craft

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Have you ever read a piece of your writing that you wrote when you first started? Does it even sound like the way you write now? You've most likely improved your craft with each piece you've written. But why has that happened? And can you improve it more? Or maybe you're a newbie, and you want to improve your craft and get published. Wherever you are in your writing career, here are three things you can do to improve your writing craft.

1. Get Honest Feedback.
I really think this is the number one thing you can do. You can do this with a good critique group, trusted beta readers, or hiring a reputable editor. No matter how you accomplish it, you need honest feedback. You need to know what is working and what is not working in your novel, short stories, memoir, etc.

With this honest feedback, you can decide what resonates with you and what doesn't. But it's so true that we are not objective about our own writing. Some of us are harder on ourselves than readers would ever be--and that's still not objective. So find other writers or industry professionals whom you trust, give them your manuscript, and accept their honest feedback.

2. Study a Writer You Admire.
I say this to my novel students and editing clients all the time. It's so important to read what you're writing. If you're writing middle grade, then read middle grade. While you're reading these professional and well-loved authors, study the craft. How do they open the book? How much dialogue do they include? How do they handle internal thoughts? What about dialogue tags and description? Use a highlighter and take notes. You're not going to copy from these authors; you're learning!

Some writers say that they don't want to read in their genre for fear of copying; others say they don't have time. But even 20 minutes a day will help. Want a challenge to get yourself reading 20 minutes a day? I have one starting April 30 on my blog ,and it's free to join!

3. Allow Yourself to Dream. 
Your imagination and creativity are always active when you're writing, even if you're a non-fiction writer. But don't just dream about your manuscript. Dream about where you want your writing career to take you. Create a vision board. Write down your career goals. Daydream of giving your Pulitzer Prize acceptance speech. It's important to envision yourself having success while also being realistic about how much hard work it will take to get you to that success. But without the vision, you can feel discouraged at the amount of hard work and rejection that comes with writing. So...allow yourself to dream.

What about you? Do you have anything else to add to the list?

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. She teaches a novel course for WOW! each month, which includes 4 critiques of your work-in-progress. To check out more about her, go to To check out her next class starting May 4, go to the WOW! classroom. 


Renee Roberson said...

I love this. I've been listening to a lot of entrepreneurial/marketing podcasts lately and they have really helped to pump me up! One thing that stuck with me the other day was an author who said if you have a manuscript sitting on your hard drive (like you know I do!) do whatever you need to do to get it out in the world. Don't give up on that dream. I loved that. I also believe in investing in yourself through classes and editing services so I'm making it a goal to do more of that before year's end.

Margo Dill said...

That's a good point, Renee, to invest in yourself. I think writing conferences are always good too for networking and inspiration!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great post, Margo! Feedback is so essential. I think the number one problem it highlights, for me anyway, is what readers don't understand...things like ages I left out or other detaIls because I forget the reader doesn't know these things. So it's something I can't discover on my own.

I recently heard from one of my instructors that every piece of writing is influenced by someone else's writing, and that's okay. It's positive to reference, heavily quote, or be inspired by another author.

I agree with Renee in investing in yourself, and I also think that immersing yourself in literary events and connecting with other writers is important.

And number one, believing in your writing, becoming an advocate for your own work.

Mary Horner said...

This is great advice, Margo, and I love that it's all simple and easy to do. So many authors and speakers list so many complicated and difficult steps to take that it becomes overwhelming. Yours is great because it is something anyone can do. Thank you for sharing this.

Margo Dill said...

Ang--I agree about readers/critique group members being able to highlight what is not clear and how often as the writer, we are SHOCKED by this. What do you mean? It's right on the page, but really, it was in our brains.

Mary: Thanks. I try to be practical. If I wasn't, I think I might go insane. :) LOL

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