I was recently asked if I had tips for becoming a ‘good’ writer. Let me start by saying that I don’t even know if i’m a good writer! That said, I don’t think it matters much if you are a good writer or not; if you write, you are a writer and there will always be people who love and hate your work. Good is such a subjective term. I understand the question, though, so some tips!

  • Don’t let anyone define the worth of your work for you; the only one you should write for is yourself.
  • Stop caring about how good your work is. Even if no one reads it, it’s still your work and if you are happy with it, it’s good.
  • Write. Just write. Write every day, write as much as you can, write when you are sad, when you’re happy, when you’re stressed or totally zen. Write because there is a story in your head that needs to get out, or write because there is nothing in your head at all. The only way for the words to flow is to write. To be a writer, that is all you need to do.
  • Read the work of others for inspiration, for tips and tricks, for a fresh perspective, but never compare your work to theirs. You write your own words and even if it comes out looking like theirs—or especially when you feel it doesn’t compare to theirs—its still your writing and it was worth getting written.
  • The same goes for creative writing coaches, or any teacher or trainer you will ever meet when it comes to writing; listen to their advice, write it all down, but when you start writing yourself, only remember the gist of their words; don’t try to emulate anyone—be yourself.
  • This is the most important one of all: know your characters. Know the way they talk, know the way they walk, know what their favourite colour is and what their favourite food was when they were five. If you’re writing fan-fiction or anything not wholly of your own creation, make headcanons for these things. Make sure that when you read what you wrote—especially dialogue—you can picture your character doing or saying it in your head. If you envision the scene you just wrote in your head and you have trouble applying it to the character(s), rewrite it.
  • That said, rewrite at the end. If you get bogged down in little things half way through your work, you’ll never get it done.
  • That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t re-read what you started writing while you are writing it; there is a flow to well-written work that hinges on your ability to keep the train on the rails. By re-reading what you wrote in the chapter so far, you make sure you’re not derailing it—or you have the time to correct.
  • Make sure your chapter, short story, or one-shot is a whole by referencing something in the first paragraph in the last one—preferably your opening sentence. This brings the story to a close and makes it feel circular—we like things that have an end that reaches back to the start, it gives us a sense of fulfilment.
  • Be comfortable when you write; find your groove. Some people need music, others complete silence. Some write best when surrounded by people, others need to be alone. Find what makes you comfortable.
  • Establish a ritual for your writing so you know to your very core that right now is writing time—make yourself something to drink, sit in your favourite chair, listen to that one song, and open your word editor of choice. Repeat the next day.
  • Reward yourself for a job well done—even if it sucked.
  • Your motivation for writing needs to be intrinsic, not extrinsic; other people have nothing to do with your writing, their opinions are just icing on the cake.
  • Every character has five senses; use them all.
  • People say things with their mouths, but they say them with their hands as well, and the way they stand, or with their tonality. People who know each other well, sometimes don’t need words at all. The touch of a hand between lovers means something completely different than the touch of a hand from an abusive parent onto their child. Play with these reactions to establish these relationships, but also to further the relationship along. Make use of their body, not just their words.
  • Write what you are comfortable with, but work to become comfortable with writing anything you can live with. Don’t care about societal norms or your own boundaries—the most interesting stories are born in the twilight.
  • There is a special kind of madness to writing that comes from being in your own head for to long. Make sure you get out of it every once in a while.
  • Don’t write yourself empty; know your limits and when you feel you are exhausting yourself, stop.
  • Love what you do. If you take anything away from this, please let it be this one. If you don’t love what you do, then why are you writing in the first place?

I hope these tips help you further your writing, but like I said, in the end, you are the writer and the only one who truly knows how to write your words done well is you. Trust in that, and you should be just fine.


Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash