5 Ways to Become a Better Writer

1. Copy. Like all the time in every way. Copy, copy, copy.

This is hard. This is crazy. Most of you won’t do it. Some days, I don’t even do it, even when I know I do. But you can pull a book off your shelf and just retype what you see. Or take a really good ad or article and copy it word for word. This is tedious, this is hard, but it’ll seep in.

Do this for classics. Do this for contemporary stuff. What you should copy depends on your genre, interest or field. If you’re working on a cookbook, then a fiction book won’t really work for you. And vice versa.

No, I’m not saying claim this as your own. Because it’s not (that would be plagiarism). But for creative practice, this works.

2. Plan to read. Then do it.

“What’re you doing later?”

“Reading a book, probably.”

For some of you, that’s an odd exchange. But that’s a plan. It doesn’t sound weird to say you’re watching Netflix later. Or playing video games. Unfortunately school or college ruined that exchange for us. It poisoned us against reading in some cases.

This is like a no-brainer. But so many wannabes don’t plan this in their schedule.

You have to plan to read. Be intentional about it.

3. Experiment

Before you know what to write, you have to try a lot of stuff out. Start with your interests. Even if they’re crazy. See what comes out. It could be cool, it could be a disaster. Both of those things are okay.

For me, I use my Vaguely Feel publication to try a bunch of other things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But every writer needs a place to try new things.

4. Stop Experimenting (And Do The Work).

You’ll want to buckle down and finish something at some point. And get better at a certain type or form. It takes a a lot of dedication (not to mention talent…) to be *excellent* at multiple types of writing. Trust me, I know. Not because I’m an expert or talented, it’s because I’ve tried to be an expert at different types of writing. It’s not easy.

5. Write, but don’t publish.

The fallacy of our modern age is to think every thought you have is magnificent. Most essayists have essays you will never read. Most bloggers have post ideas stacked in their draft folders. Most novelists have a book that will never see the glow of a Kindle screen.

You should try multiple drafts of something before you ever hit the publish button. And reread it. And review it. And reread it again. (Do I do this every time? No. Should I? Probably).


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I’m Josh Spilker, a writer and author. I blog about the writing process at Create, Make, Write and write about everyday life at Vaguely Feel. For more like this, follow this publication: