Every writer needs some guidance here and there. You don’t start out by publishing bestselling novels. It takes years of practice and learning. So whether you’ve self-published one book, many books, or no books, there’s always room to improve your writing. Our latest blog series has explored how to improve your writing, from at-home practices and activities to group workshops and retreats.
How to Improve Your Writing by Attending Writing Workshops
Creative writing workshops are groups or classes that meet up for the purpose of improving one another’s writing through dialogue. A workshop forces students to do the most beneficial thing for growth: write. Students in creative writing workshops will write a lot. The purpose is to nurture the craft. Communing with other writers, reading their work, and receiving feedback on your own is going to greatly improve your writing. You’ll figure out what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs to be tweaked or edited in your story. Utilize your connection with other writers and your exposure to other forms and genres to better your own craft.
To make the most of your experience at your writing workshop, be sure to show up, complete your assignments, read and reflect on your peers’ work, offer insightful feedback, and listen to the feedback offered to you.
If you can’t attend an in-person workshop, there are a variety of online options. If the tuition rates for these creative writing workshops are too high, there are free classes that are great options.
To learn more about what to expect at a creative writing workshop, read this blog.
Writing Retreats: Writing in the Wild
A writing retreat is a chance to immerse yourself in your writing. Writing retreats take place all over the world. Wherever your interest leads you, there’s likely a writing retreat located nearby. They’re usually a weekend or week-long trip, during which you’ll have long chunks of time to draft, rewrite, edit, or begin an entirely new project.
Writing retreats for beginners can be a very productive experience, if you know how to best maximize your time and energy.
- Go with a goal in mind. If you set a specific goal in mind, you’re more likely to achieve that goal.
- Get feedback from the other writers. You aren’t alone on this retreat. Use your connections!
- Experience the location. Spend some time experiencing the location you’ve chosen, whether this is a lush forest, sandy beach, or quiet lakefront.
- Take breaks. Give yourself little breaks throughout your writing retreat, whether this is by taking walks around the campsite, swimming in the lake or ocean, or going on hikes with your fellow writers.
- Get to know the other writers. These people could be your writing friends for life, your new go-to beta readers and proofreaders.
To learn about writing retreats for new writers, read this blog.
Don’t Know How to Improve Your Writing? Turn to Books!
If you’re stuck and don’t know how to improve your writing, you’ll find no better answer than turning to your bookshelf. Reading often and widely, across all genres and forms, is the first step toward becoming a great writer. If you read a lot, you’ll learn to recognize storytelling patterns, plot devices, and character building techniques. There are countless instructional books that will guide you and improve your work along the way, but picking up any fiction, nonfiction, or poetry book is an exercise in craft.
If you have no idea where to start, read this blog for a list of helpful books.
Feeling Stuck? Try a Writing Prompt!
A writing prompt is the beginning point of a story. It prompts you to finish the rest. It could be as simple as one word, or it could be a sentence or two. Imagine the prompt is simply “future.” You’re left to infer a lot. You could write a poem full of questions about the future, or you could imagine what the world will be like in ten, twenty, fifty years.
Now, imagine the prompt is, “You time travel one hundred years into the future.” What might you write about then?
The great thing about writing prompts is that the stories they inspire are endless. No two writers will approach a prompt in the same way. Plus, there are tons of writing prompts online, free to access:
For more prompts, exercises, and ideas, read this blog.
Watch Out for These Common Writing Mistakes
All this work figuring out how to improve your writing will be for naught if your manuscript is riddled with the same writing errors over and over again. Keep an eye out for these common writing mistakes:
- You’re/Your: One of them is a contraction, and one is possessive. Which is which? Read this blog to find out.
- There/They’re/Their: People who struggle with “you’re” and “your” will probably struggle with “there,” “they’re,” and “their” for similar reasons.
- It’s vs. Its: When you add an apostrophe at the end of a name, for example, “That’s Brian’s bag,” it becomes possessive. This isn’t the case with “it’s,” however, and this often causes some writers to stumble.
- Comma rules: Commas account for a lot of errors in manuscripts. There are a lot of comma rules that may be difficult to remember, especially if it’s been awhile since you’ve been in school.
For more instruction, read this blog.
Taking steps to learn how to improve your writing will pay off in the long run. You’ll see drastic changes in your manuscript, and you’ll have fun doing it.