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5 simple tips to becoming the writer of your dreams

Writing is a lot harder than people think, especially for budding writers. You believe that all you need to do is to write until somebody tells you that your story is not so great, has loopholes, and your characters are not well developed. So, you search for writing tips because you want to get better. But it doesn’t get better, because suddenly, you’re bombarded by tons of writing advice and trying to adopt them all! 

I know, it’s crazy, and that’s why I’m here to help! 

In this article, I’m sharing five tips that I genuinely think will help you to become the writer of your dreams. You don’t have to master all the advice you’ve read online or elsewhere; master these. 

Ready? Let’s go! 

1. Read 

There’s no going around this; if you want to be a good writer, you have to. And make sure you’re reading the right stuff. Read good books by authors who have mastered the craft of plot building, character development, and language use. You might ask, “How is a newbie supposed to know this?” Well, this is my advice: read the classics for a start. You can hardly go wrong with these. As you do this, you’ll get a sense of what’s good and what’s not. 

2. Write 

Maybe this should have come first to stress its importance, but you need to write. Write often; practice what you’re learning from your reading. I always tell my StoryCrafting students that writing is like building a muscle: the more you do it, the better/stronger it’ll get. I suggest that you write every day––if you can. You may start by writing a page, two, three, as far as you can go. Just ensure you’re consistent. Do this consistently for six months and see if you’ll not become the writer of your dreams! 

3. Let a good beta reader critique your work 

Now we’re getting to the hard stuff. I once read that submitting your work for critiquing is like giving someone a sword and telling them to take a stab at you! 😀 Let me tell you now, it takes a great deal of courage to give someone your work to critique, and no, I’m not talking about a family member or friend who’s afraid to hurt your feelings. I’m talking about someone who can identify plot holes, weak characters, faulty themes, weak sentences, and other shortcomings. Someone who’s not afraid to tell you that the story doesn’t work and you should rewrite it or abandon the idea altogether.  

I am working on a post on how to get a good beta reader, so look out for it. But the general gist is this: a beta reader (or just someone) will give concrete advice to strengthen your work. A beta reader is a fresh pair of eyes, helping you see what you can’t see and noting the improvements in your skill. When you know that your work will be examined, it compels you to work harder at it. If you have this as a budding writer, it’s priceless.   

4. Follow and subscribe to magazines 

When you follow reputable magazines (such as the Brittle Paper or Catapult), it gives you an insight into the quality of work you can aspire to. Some of these magazines have helpful interviews and podcasts you can read and listen to, and you can discover writing tips and processes and ways you can improve on yours. I remember reading an interview of Maya Angelou, where she mentioned that she read portions of the bible for the aesthetic language. I found that interesting and made a note to study those portions as well.  

Following these magazines can also give you an insight into how the industry works and what you need to do to succeed in it. The more you read, the more you’ll recognize patterns and industry secrets. 

What I love the most about following literary magazines is discovering writers with a similar writing voice and style. This helps me to refine the list of writers I can understudy. I don’t try to reinvent the wheel. I read their works and learn their techniques. 

5. Permit yourself to grow 

I tell my students this: my course will not transform you into an overnight genius writer. It will guide you, but you still have to study and write. Too many writers (myself included) are impatient with themselves, trying to achieve perfection within a short time. You need to find your writing voice, and when you do, know how to employ it. So give yourself the permission to grow and make mistakes. So long as you continue to read and practice, you’ll do just fine. 

Trust me when I say that these five tips are really what you need, but note that you cannot do them without study, discipline, and commitment.  

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Please share your thoughts below! 

Happy writing!

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Lola Opatayo is a creative writer, communications professional, and editor. Her work has been endowed with awards from the Iceland Writers Retreat and MacDowell. She is a recipient of the inaugural Equity Fellowship from Editors Canada and the 2020 Gerald Freund Fellowship. Lola is the founder of WordCaps, where she empowers small businesses and writers with writing strategies and resources.

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