Writer’s Blog

How to get better at writing

Every writer has a toolbox, but are you using it?

Beth van der Pol
Oct 5 · 3 min read

Most writers have a formula, a technique, a magical ritual that they perform before sitting down to write. The sad thing is that not every writer can follow the same rules as others. What is successful for one person will drive another writer insane. Ahhh the world of creatives, what beautiful chaos.

There are so many articles online nowadays about how you must write, how you must plot how you must do this or that and honestly it’s exhausting.

By the time you’ve ticked all of the boxes on your ever-growing checklist, you’re tired of the project and feel like you’ve made little to no progress.

Here is my advice: never listen to people who say you must do something.

There is far too much writing advice in the world like:

  • Show don’t tell.
  • Write what you know.
  • Use said as a dialogue tag.
  • Never use said as a dialogue tag.
  • Kill your darlings.
  • Remove the word ‘that’.

There are countless other pieces of advice you probably shouldn’t listen to.

Yes, yes, I know… but they are the rules.

The rules to be entirely honest are more like guidelines.

Captain Jack Sparrow

These are things to make your writing stronger, and that’s fair when implemented a lot of this advice is good advice. That doesn’t mean it will work for every writer or every story.

I know… you’re sceptical, but every single one of these rules can be broken, and you can still turn out a great piece of work.

I read a short story by a guy called Anton Eine not so long ago called, The Cleansing. In this piece of short fiction, Eine uses no dialogue tags, and it’s terrific.

The story is only conversation, it all makes sense, but it doesn’t use any tags. I think it’s incredible!

There are so many things that we are taught to do. Sometimes we need to take advice with a grain of salt and go with what our creativity wants us to do. Sometimes it will pay off. Sometimes it won’t.

The time you spend experimenting with your writing is never wasted time.

A story that only shows and tells will feel lacking. We need a healthy mixture of both. We need some variation with dialogue tags to make a story interesting. We also need some good old said tags so that it doesn’t feel overdone. There is beauty in being able to decide where you draw the lines with the writing ‘rules’.

There is a balance in writing, and you can only find what works for you with practice.

That’s the only piece of writing advice that will ever truly help you get to where you want to be.

Practise and play, experiment with your writing.

There isn’t a formula for success. There isn’t a formula for anything, so have fun. If you’re enjoying what you are writing, chances are your readers will enjoy it too. As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!

Writer’s Blog

A publication dedicated to fighting writer’s block and enabling writers.

Beth van der Pol

Written by

Author, writer and general young unprofessional!

Writer’s Blog

A publication dedicated to fighting writer’s block and enabling writers.

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