Many of us dream of becoming a writer, but few people actually do anything further about this. This untapped potential remains an unrealised ambition. For most people, actually starting to write a book is too scary a prospect, so they find wide-ranging excuses for never quite finding the time for this project.
However, your dream can become a reality if you consider the following tips.
1. In order to be a writer, you must write! Make sure that you write something every day. It does not have to be part of a great novel. Many writers find that by keeping a notebook and pen with them, and writing down thoughts and descriptions of what they see and hear on a daily basis, they can exercise their writing mind. Listen to and observe conversations around you that may inspire you, and jot down words or phrases that interest you.
2. Adopt a strategic approach to your reading. Rather than reading passively, this means that when you are reading an enjoyable book, stop occasionally to check how the words are making you feel. Anxious? In suspense? Fearful? Relieved? Are you reading quickly in order to discover what happens next, or are you revelling in the description of a scene, possibly going over a paragraph twice in order to enjoy the unfolding action? When you are moved by the writing of an author, re-read the exact words that have affected you – and analyse how the author has achieved this. (As a general rule, descriptions tend to slow down the pace, and actions move it along faster.) Without a doubt, this will involve the careful use of vocabulary, but there may be changes in pace, style and dialogue that have been significant. Whatever it is, you can learn from this – obviously not by copying other authors’ words, but by using similar techniques. You will want to have your own unique voice in your writing, but nevertheless, it can be useful to take inspiration from those you admire most.
3. Immerse yourself in reading books in the genre in which you want to develop your skills. This is known to be a great way of perfecting your own work. Sometimes, when reading a good book, it can be tempting to think that such writing is beyond your own skills. It is important to remember that most successful writers spend many hours re-writing their chapters, and carefully editing their work, taking advice from publishers and other writing colleagues. Beware of spending too much time reading at the expense of your own output.
4. Experiment with developing a storyline in your head. Never use other writers’ plots – these will be obvious to your readers. Write down your ideas, even if you just jot down a list, or even make a doodle that expresses your ideas. It can be encouraging how the physical act of writing down ideas can help to crystallise them, rather than allowing them to float around in your mind.
If the tips above have sparked an interest, you may wish to take the next step – which is to complete a writing course provided by the Academy for Distance Learning. Your friendly tutor will help you to hone your writing skills and keep you on track to write that novel, short story or non fiction piece. Just imagine the satisfaction of reaching that ambition.