1. Samomo
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    Samomo Member

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    What is the one most effective way to better yourself as a writer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Samomo, Jul 2, 2010.

    If you had to choose only one way to better yourself as a writer what would it be? Through critiquing, reading, observing, practicing? Or maybe something else?
    e: Maybe my post was confusing? I, like Cogito said, meant the best way to improve, not only way.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Reading has helped me a lot so that comes first. Practicing writing comes a close second.
     
  3. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading, reading and reading some more.

    I'd say critiquing as well, but you do that when you read anyway. Or i do anyway.
     
  4. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    Reading.
     
  5. Ron Aberdeen
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    Ron Aberdeen Banned

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    As a scriptwriter, the transition from amateur to professional has been the best learning curve I have experienced.

    The first thing is realising a screenplay is a working document that other creative individuals use as a plan to construct another work of art in a completely different dimension.

    Having to edit your work to meet the requirements of others is a tough lesson in discipline, that and having to deliver rewrites to a deadline.

    Finding the balance between your own writer’s ego and having to accommodate the egos of others; certainly those who are going to pay you for your work, is a lesson that every writer needs to learn.

    It is one thing to write to please yourself; it is another to write well enough to be considered a writer worthy of commissioning.
     
  6. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    is this a trick question? Writing. Writing is, in the end, the only thing that will make me a better writer. No amount of reading, thinking about writing, critiquing, etc... will help unless I'm putting words down myself.
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree. Writing is what helps me. If anything, reading just discourages me and confuses me more. If anything came in second, it would likely be movie watching since I always develop stories mentally first like they were a movie. But the first place for me is definitely writing.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Writing without reading isn't an effective way to improve. It will only result in the repeating of the same forms, the same ideas, the same structures, the same style, with perhaps the occasional accidental development. Reading is crucial to developing as a writer, and while you obviously need to strike a balance between the two, I don't think its possible to overstate the importance of reading.
     
  9. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Can't cook without eating, can't write without reading.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Read critically.

    Don't read only to absorb the story. Pay attention to how the writer achieves the mood, constructs dialogue, develops character and plot.

    Also study where and how the author misses the boat. Even the best writer will have off days, and leave weak scenes in his or her writing.

    Learn from all of it, the good, the sloppy, and the positively outstanding.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Oh god yes, do this.

    Write too ... and go out and live life!

    Don't just sit scribbling in your room, go and have your heart broken, get drunk and wake up under a bridge with jam on your face, just go out and live, and then come back and use your experiences in your writing. It really does help make your writing fresh and interesting when you do use your own life in it.
     
  12. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading is important but I wouldn't call it the ONE thing to do. In order to write more, you have to write. Practice makes perfect. And I disagree that without reading, your writing will never progress. I feel mine has progressed immensely without significant "book a day" reading.(It probably is still drivel, but it makes me vomit inside a lot less than when I first started out) Yes, reading more would probably push it even further along, but I'd have gotten nowhere without writing. All the studying in the world doesn't do anything until you put your skills into practice, hence the ONE thing a writer needs to better themselves as a writer is practice, practice, practice the writing. (At least speaking from personal experience) Maybe it's just that I've never found reading to help me as a writer much, or the fact that I am naturally rebellious. :p But writing to me seems the best way to better yourself, if we're picking only ONE way.
     
  13. Ron Aberdeen
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    Ron Aberdeen Banned

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    I’ve been lucky in my life and have visited many counties

    Met both very famous and very rich people, visited some of the most deprived areas of the world, as well as some of the most beautiful places on the globe

    I’ve run businesses, made loads of money and lost even more, been in love, a parent, a grandparent, a lover, an artist, a musician and lived a full an exciting life, and every second of my life improves my ability to weave the tapestry of my living into my story telling.

    Get a life and then you will get a story.
     
  14. Taylor3
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    i can't believe you all put reading ahead of writing
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you just write and write and write, you are very likely to merely reinforce bad writing habits rather than learning to improve.
     
  16. orange
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    orange Member

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    Reading, definitely. However, I agree that practicing comes a very close second. I find in reading it helps to identify which writers I admire the most, and why - as well as those whose writing style is closest to mine, and how. But after all of that, it's practice, practice, practice. You can't get better without trial and error. In my opinion.
     
  17. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading critically, as Cog says, and writing as regularly as possible, taking on board informed criticism of my writing.

    There is no doubt in my mind that I owe much to people I have met on good forums such as this one--apart from the ideas and crits, it has been interesting watching other people on a similar learning curve.

    Researching my material thoroughly and focussing on where I am going with each piece I produce--and who it is aimed at--has improved the quality of what I write.
     
  18. Show
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    If you never show it to anybody, probably. But nobody is saying JUST write and write, just that in order to get better, writing itself is the most effective way to do that. It should be supplemented with reading and experiences as well as good critique. But the one most effective way to better yourself as a writer? Clearly writing takes the first prize here.

    Besides, "just" doing anything can reinforce bad habits. Whether I've reinforced bad habits or not, writing itself has made me grow a lot more than any of the things I've read. That's not to say reading has no benefit, it does. However, it's a supplement to the craft, and is useless in making me a better writer until I write. Hence, I see writing as the ultimate tool to better myself as a writer. It's not something you do all by itself, but it's the most effective way to better myself. Heck, practice at ANYTHING is the best way to better yourself in that craft. You can benefit greatly by analyzing the work of others(inspiration, see what you're doing wrong), but ultimately, practice will be what ultimately makes you better. This is true for just about everything in life.
     
  19. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Right, the question was what wast the number 1 thing, which is clearly writing. Without writing, you'll never improve your writing. Everything else is really good and helpful, but if you don't actually put words down, you aren't a writer and won't ever get better at writing :p

    I'd bet money that if you take two people with the same skill level (which is hypothetical since it would be almost impossible to find this) and one reads books for a month and one spends that month writing, then both sit down and write a short story, the one who spent the month writing will write a better story in all likelyhood. Practice practice practice. (And yes, the writer who spends that month writing AND reading will probably outdo both of the others, if s/he can read critically and absorb the lessons fiction can teach... but first and foremost if you want to be a writer, you gotta write)
     
  20. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    I read and read, get well versed in the subject I'm writing about, then I begin writing. It's simple and it has helped me immensely hone my craft.
     
  21. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Read a lot. I am a prolific reader. Well when there is more money I am. Currently I've not been reading so much. Life has been pretty crazy recently.

    Life definitely helps your writing. Experiencing a wide variety of situations and emotions helps you to recreate those same emotions when you are writing. There are a lot of days I lament all I've been through. Then other days when I'm writing I realize how experiencing so very many emotions and situations has helped my writing tremendously. When I first started writing I didn't know what yearning that made your heart feel like it was being pulled in another direction felt like. I didn't know what sadness so deep it shook you to your core felt like. I didn't know what relief that made me want to collapse felt like. It all helps to make you a better writer.
     
  22. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    I couldn't agree more. Recently, when I've been looking at my changing situation... a change I'm not happy with. I just think, "I have my writing."

    Not only does life help along your writing but it will drive you to write more.
     
  23. Taylor3
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    they say practice makes perfect but I guess you guys think observation makes perfect.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The question was not what one single thing you should do exclusively to become a better writer. The question was what one activity will make the biggest difference in your writing ability.

    Yes, you should write. Yes, you should critique. Yes, you should observe other people and listen to how they talk. But the one thing that will make the greatest incremental change in your writing skills is to learn from those who have travelled the road before you, by studying how they write and how it works.

    No one is saying do one thing, and ignore everything else.
     
  25. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    I second what Lemex said about living life. Sure, it's possible to write about things you have never experienced; writers do it every day. But if there is one thing that I find makes my writing better, fresher, and with more emotion, it is going out and living. You feel all of the emotions you want to write about, and then it gets much easier to find the words to describe them.
     

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