6 surprising ways to become a better writer

Although you can’t be a writer without writing, there’s more to life if you want to be a great writer. These things can seem unrelated, but I promise that if you want to become a better writer, these tips will help with that.

If you came here looking for writing tips to help you become a better writer, keep reading until the end to find out how you can improve your writing skills in just 30 days.

Read, obviously

I’m starting with the most obvious one. It was Stephen King who said that if you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.

Which books should you read to become a better writer

But what should you read to become a better writer? Anything and everything, if you ask me. There are still people who say that you need to learn from the classics to become a great writer, but that is hardly all that matters. While reading Austen and Dickens has its benefits, there are a lot of things in classic novels that you probably shouldn’t be copying if you want to write for the modern reader. (And let’s be real, unless you have a time machine, you most likely are writing for the modern reader.)

Read new books, read old books. Re-read your old favourites. Read books that you hate! Whatever you are reading, analyse it for what works and doesn’t work. I know, sometimes you just want to read for fun, but even then you can still make a note of what you like about what you’re reading.

And yes, you should definitely be reading books about the craft of writing. I’ve heard opinions that as long as you write a lot and read fiction, you don’t need to read craft books, but I strongly disagree. Just knowing that something does or doesn’t work isn’t enough – you should know why. That’s going to solve most problems you’ll face as a writer. Here, you can find out what are my best books for beginner writers and more advanced writers alike.

Learn from other people’s life stories

How to get writing inspiratio from other people

You don’t even need to pick up a huge biography from the library to do this if you don’t want to. The world is full of documentaries and reality television that can show you how other people live.

The people who say that reading classics is the best way to learn writing are probably the same ones saying that writers should only watch things with an important cultural value. Well, I say those people are probably terribly boring. (And I’m saying that as someone whose idea of a good time is going grocery shopping, so I’m not exactly someone who people describe as “fun at parties” either.)

Yes, watching old French movies and learning about the history of oil paints are valuable things to do, but sometimes the best way to study characters is to watch an entire season of 90 Day Fiance. (Even if that show was completely scripted these days, you can still examine how they’ve created story arcs for all the couples.)

And yes, if watching TV just doesn’t vibe with you, do pick up a memoir or two. Even better if they’re written by people that you know nothing about with lives very different from yours. Getting out of your little bubble is great for your creativity.

Talk to people and eavesdrop when you can

Now that the days of social distancing are behind us, you can learn from other people in real life as well. Remember that?

So talk to your grandma and ask her what she liked to do when she was 17. Go to a coffee shop and listen to what they’re talking about at another table. Most importantly: never discount someone’s story as uninteresting. You never know when you might need it.

Learn new things (unrelated to writing)

I don’t think there are many things that are more exciting than learning new skills. You don’t need to agree, but learning new stuff is still very good for your writer’s brain.

If you’re busy, you might not want to take up a new hobby, but you could still try something new for a day or two. Or maybe you could go on Wikipedia and read about something that you know absolutely nothing about. In either case, your brain will be happy and you might gain new tools for your future writing.

My post about different ways to become more creative includes so many fun things you can try to find more creativity and inspiration. Most of them don’t cost a dime and don’t take all day, so try as many of them as you like.

Connect with other writers

Don't be alone on your writing journey

Writing can be a solitary activity but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t even need to go to writing groups and get critique from other writers if that’s not something you would enjoy (or if you’re like me and you don’t even have writers’ groups anywhere near you). Getting to know other writers and having people who understand you is still valuable.

If you don’t know how to find writers in the wild, you probably already know that internet is full of them. I have got to know so many amazing authors on Instagram and most of them are easy to approach and they like making new friends too. Sure, trying to DM your favourite author with 100K followers might not lead to anything, but if you check hashtags like #AspiringAuthor or #FindingMyWritingCommunity, you can find other people who are exactly where you are in your writing journey.

When you find other writers who are where you are on your writing journey, you could ask someone to be critique partners with you. That means you can exchange your writing with each other and receive feedback from someone who know exactly what you’re going through, which will help you become a better writer while helping someone else.

If you’d like a place to connect with other writers and to get tips and feedback, you should join Protagonist Crafters on Facebook.

Go outside

Why going ourside will make you a better writer

I live in a country that is covered in yucky snow almost half the year and I want nothing to do with it. Still, leaving your house is generally a positive thing, assuming it’s safe to do so. If you can’t go for a walk, go sit in a park. If you can’t physically leave your house, staring out the window every now and then is better than staring at screens all day.

You might know that walking is good for your physical health, but it’s also good for your memory and other important brain functions. Also, if you can manage not pulling your phone out of your pocket every five minutes, being outside is a good way to spend time with fewer distractions than indoors in front of all your screens. You might even get a great idea or two.

I cannot emphasise too much how important it is to spend time every day without consuming some kind of content, whether that means scrolling though Tiktok, reading books or watching TV. If you struggle with writer’s block, the first thing you need to do is to arrange time every day to do nothing. Going outside is a fantastic way to achieve that and your creativity will thank you.

Take care of your body

We all experience different degrees of health, but taking care of your body to the extent that you can is vital for your ability to keep writing. I know there’s a popular stereotype of writers living on nothing by black coffee and probably whiskey, but you’re not doing yourself any favours that way. Being a mess on purpose also doesn’t make you more interesting, no matter what you might have been told.

Writers, myself included, also have a tendency to write hunched down on their computers or notebooks. Taking care of ergonomic working positions, getting up from your chair more often and stretching are easy ways to make sure your writing sessions aren’t thwarted by a sudden cramp in your neglected back muscles. (If you want to hear more advice like this, you should also read health tips for writers.)

What else makes you a better writer in your opinion? Is it something you do or don’t do? Let me know in the comments!

Use writing exercises to become a better writer

What if you could become a better writer in just 30 days? With my 30-Day Writing Challenge, you practise a different writing skill each day and your writing will be so much stronger in just a month. Coupled with everything you learned in this post, you’ll be on your way to becoming the best writer you know.

30-Day Writing Challenge - 30 days of unique writing exercises

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