1. Hollowly

    Hollowly Member

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    Times when you noticed a sudden improvement in your writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hollowly, Feb 23, 2019.

    I'm trying to speed up improving my writing, as I seem to have gotten stuck in a rut. So I was wondering, has there ever been any time when any of you noticed a quick, marked improvement in your writing? What were you doing at the time that you think lead to the improvement? Were you reading more? Analyzing a bunch of stories? I'm just looking for various things to try. I'm curious particularly about prose quality, but if you noticed some activity, or mind set really helped you with say writing speed, or idea generation, I'd like to hear it. I know also that people reach plateaus and that when you break them it can sort of seem all of a sudden when really you've been working past it for awhile and it's all just finally added up. But if there are any specific activities that you found really improved your prose more quickly, that helped you make a breakthrough, I'd love to hear them. Thanks. :)
     
  2. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Senior Member

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    I made substantial (and relatively quick) gains in my writing when I started giving critiques and reading critiques from others. Believe it or not, I've learned quite a lot just from keeping tabs on the Share Your First Three Sentences thread.
     
  3. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

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    Immerse yourself in it. Listen to podcasts like Writing Excuses, and read books like On Writing. And write of course. I don’t think there’s an easy button to make anyone a better writer, but it helps to digest as many viewpoints as possible on how to write well, and to of course practice, practice, and practice.
     
  4. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Contributor

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    Watch movies and documentary shows in your genre for !Aha! moments. It's a spark that gets the fire going.
     
  5. Hollowly

    Hollowly Member

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    Bone2pick - critiques, yes. I've been meaning to do this but forgotten. I'm glad they were so helpful to you. I'm definitely going to give that a try. Thanks! :)

    Matt E - Yeah, I know there are no short cuts. I just can't figure out if I'm in a rut or on a plateau. If it's a plateau then maybe I'm doing what I should and just need more time. Like you said, I'm immersing myself in various media about writing. I actually just finished rereading "On Writing" in January. I'm practicing too. I think maybe I just need more time and work to accrue to get over this hump. But I worry it's a rut and that I'm not doing the right things, so asked if there was a way others had gotten better. I forgot about podcasts though. I watch youtube videos but never listen to podcasts, though there's some overlap of course. I think I have a cache of podcasts somewhere even and will have to give them a listen. Thanks for the reminder! :)

    Some Guy - Movies are one of my go-tos but I completely forgot about Documentaries and they have helped me out in the past, getting ideas flowing. I even remember meaning to record a few last month but didn't have the DVR space. Now I'm kicking myself. Oh well. I know of others. Thanks for the tip. :)
     
  6. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Contributor

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    A lot of times a DVR will have a port you can add a storage extension to. Check the interwebs.
     
  7. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    When I stopped writing! Haha!
     
  8. Harmonices

    Harmonices Active Member

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    I'm looking forward to it..
     
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  9. JayClassical

    JayClassical Member

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    So much valuable info out there. I suggest looking up editor tips on writing. Tons of books too. Right now I'm reading Stephen King's "On Writing" and its a fresh look from the other side.
     
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I noticed a big improvement in my writing during and after taking a poetry class. I took a class that was more based on reading poetry and understanding forms. We did have to write in different forms for each week, but it was more about understanding (really understanding) how all these different sorts of poetry are constructed. Not only do I think reading poetry can be a huge benefit, but writing poetry to form really makes you think about word choice and how words sound together and the importance of those things. Try writing a sonnet or sestina every day for a month. It might be a challenge, but I believe there will also be a great payoff.
     
  11. Hollowly

    Hollowly Member

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    Yes, Poetry! I remember for the longest time I meant to make sure to read a poem everyday and try to write a poem a week, thinking it would use a different part of my writing brain. But I never stuck with even reading it regularly and poetry fell by the wayside. I've since gotten out a collection of William Blake from the library and hope that once I get reading poetry again I'll be inspired to write it. I'd always been intimidated by learning the forms, seems complicated. I had Mary Oliver's "Poetry Handbook" on my reading list for awhile though and I'm hoping it will help me. That class sounds great, I hope you got some good poems written out of it, or will one day. :)
     
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  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I would say it's actually reading, writing and understanding the different form of poetry that helped me. I mean you can write a pretty poem, sure, but I'm not sure how much help that will be. I suggest looking into some forms. There are even youtube videos on how to write certain forms. It's worth giving a try. But that's what I give credit to for the improvement I noticed in my own writing.
     
  13. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    I've gotten much more enthusiastic about conveying ideas through dialogue. I always used to write dialogue as if I was speaking out loud. I tried to make it sound the way people talk in real life but literature only represents reality. I noticed that after reading plenty books from the 50's and 60's, the dialogue was much more realistic, ironically.
     
  14. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    When I started keeping track of my wordcount for each character, each chapter, and each scene and planning ahead my next scenes block by block with a spreadsheet. I find it quite motivating watching the wordcount tick up each time I write more. I start with 'if I just add that bit more, I'll be at -' and then once you start it's easier to keep going.
     
  15. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Senior Member

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    Sudden improvement? Never!

    Slow but cumulative improvement? All the time I actively do things connected to writing.

    I decided to make writing my profession one year and one week ago. In that first year I have:
    - Read 49 books about writing, screenwriting, thinking, self management... (and tens of other books of course)
    - Watched more information about same topics in Youtube clips than I have studied by reading books.
    - Made small amount of networking in that area.
    - Written one complete SFD (AP, 195 pages), 181 pages of current SDF (SH), 119 pages of background material for SH, 162 + 5 pages of therapeutic self babbling + 70 pages of some topic related text somewhere +...
    - I have light edited most of SH draft.
    - I joined here July 31, 2018 and I have written 1 022 textual muddles in WF.
    - I have watched tv-programs and movies in order to see through the story to the script.
    - I have been talking with many interesting people so that I learn about real life characters.
    - I have visited university lectures about a topic that interests me.
    - I have hade email exchange with several interesting people I can't meet...

    Now it is much easier to write English. (Not my first language. I'm a Finn.)

    It is much easier to find some of my flaws.

    It is much easier to structure writing projects.

    It is much easier to fight procrastination and stress. (Which is not because of writing but something else.)

    My point?

    If you want to develop - work. Read a book about writing once a week. Read other books also. Watch video tutorials, lessons, interviews, presentations....

    Go deep. Go wide. Go outside your comfort zone. Build your contact network...

    (Today I started studying things related to writing about 04.00 in the morning. It is now 16.07 in Finland. So I have worked 12 hours to improve my skills. And I will work 4 - 6 hours more.)

    Improvement is cumulative. Work and it goes up.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  16. Juniormint

    Juniormint Member

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    For me, most of my best moments happen when I am working. That is when I am at my 9-5 job or in the yard pulling weeds, doing things physical that leaves my brain to wander. I find that during these times I wonder and contemplate many different aspects of my story and how to write it. I imagine difference scenarios and what my character would do and how he would act in each situation. I have personally found that for me, simply sitting down and staring at my computer or notebook waiting to think of the right things to say simply puts too much stress on my mind and body. A good exercise or hard work may help relieve the stress of the day and let your mind run free. I guess you could call it getting the juices flowing as some people may say.

    That said, everyone is different. Again my experience has always been through work, or times when I am mildly active but not fully engaged in something. However, things like movies, games, reading, and generally anything mentally interactive tends to turn my writing genius off. If i spend an hour or two engrossed in a book I tend to come out of it full of that books ideas and can't pull my mind away from it to create something genuine. Not to say I don't receive inspiration from a book. On the contrary, many books have driven me mad with the desire to create and add to that genre something that fits me and my views.

    Reading can encourage me in many ways. If i read scenes that are too dull or if the protagonist does things that I think are against his character or if things happen in an illogical way I may be filled with the desire to never write such things. This gets me thinking and eventually those thoughts become ideas which I can write about. I tend to take many of my experiences and use them to compare and contrast with my characters to see if any of them fit or can be applied in any way. Even still, I have found that most often I am left dulled directly after anything mentally engaging.

    I would advise simply taking your mind off the subject directly and instead distract yourself so that your mind will come back fresh every time you reconsider your writing. I guess you might say you let the ideas stew, and after a day, week, or month you come back to see what has settled. Hope this helps.
     
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  17. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Another thing that has helped for me: when I started with something I just liked, something I was familiar and comfortable with- regardless of worrying about it being interesting and original- and worked to make it interesting and original enough as I went along. I think it's at least safer to work with something you know you can get somewhere with and then see just how good you can make it than try to make something grand and novel that you will have some difficulty making work, especially if you're inexperienced like myself.
     
  18. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    My local library has a "Writer in Residence" program, where they bring in published authors to consult with people for few months.
    I spent a half hour with the current W-in-R, and it gave me a great new perspective.
     
  19. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I find that reading something by a master of the style I'm trying to emulate helps. Something rubs off. It's like I want to have a sort of conversation with that person, and I need to keep my end of it up by bringing my best game.
     
  20. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Active Member

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    My skills jumped a level or two when I discovered that my tablet had a word processor. What you write on matters just as much as what you write.
     

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