This story is not a step-by-step guide for every single skill I mentioned below. Instead, I have jotted down the things I learned from my short experience as a writer and how they may help you too. I hope the following uncredited skills make you a more focused and successful writer.
1. Make a target and stick to it
Even you will agree with me on this: making a schedule is relatively simple. But sticking to it is always the tricky part. Sometimes you may get too focussed on the goal that you lose your motivation altogether. The reverse is also true. Sometimes your motive does not let you focus on one topic alone, and you find yourself unable to target one thing at a time.
What you can do: Break down your writing task into small chunks where you can focus only on a specific task during those particular hours. During those moments, train your brain to work only on the task at hand. Know that other works will get attention too — but during their specific allotted time.
Look how, in the above example, every task was allotted a separate and specific period during which I have to write. This, of course, is going to differ for everybody. Do not make a generic schedule like this:
The schedule, as mentioned in the above example, is not going to get you anywhere. You procrastinate and think that you have all the time in the world and therefore will post-pone the writing task altogether. The same cycle is repeated the next day.
I have been there and done that.
That is why it is crucial to create a proper schedule and stick to it.
2. Start marketing yourself as early as possible
Let’s get this clear: you will be a successful writer only if there is somebody out there reading your content — be it a book, articles, or anything at all. Not everybody is JK Rowling or Stephen King. For that, you will have to start making yourself known as a writer whose works people want to read.
What you can do: You could start a newsletter or publish blogs and articles regularly so that your works reach new people. Share your latest articles on social media as frequently as possible.
3. Make sure you use grammatical components properly
I know my grammar isn’t excellent either. I still am learning.
However, it is the truth. Everybody likes a writer who can deliver their messages clearly and in as few words as possible. And every writer wants their readers to immerse themselves in their work. For that to be possible, the writer must narrate their thoughts in a coherent flow. This is not inherent to writers. It comes by learning and practicing.
What you can do: Give yourself some time to read and learn from other writers — who are better than you and understand how they use different figures of speech at different places. You should check out Grammar Girl for new tips and tricks related to English grammar. I have learned a lot from her, and you will pick up some grammar tricks too.
4. Learn the power of editing your works
Admit it — writing is the easy part. Sitting behind your screen and reading the same line for the fourth time only to find new errors — is the challenging part.
In Stephen King’s words:
“To write is human, to edit is divine.”
There is no perfect formula for editing any work — it is as much art as science. Every editor will see new things that should have been added or subtracted out of the same write-up. I understand that putting on the editor’s shoes can be difficult; however, the process reaps great rewards when done right.
What you do: Use as few words as possible to deliver a message. Make sure that you don’t flaunt your vocabulary. Not everybody has a diverse dictionary as you do. Simplicity is elegant. In the end, look at the overall picture of your write-up. Does it look appealing? Is there enough white space? Have you overdone something? Can a particular big word be substituted for a simpler small word? Is this work better than your previous one? Are you consistent with the punctuation and language?
5. Accepting rejection as a part of the writing process
Rejections can be brutal. They can be disheartening, confusing, and demotivating. Worst of all, sometimes it even feels like a personal attack. Once you write something and put it out for the world to read, know that not everybody will like what you have got to say. Not everybody is going to accept you and your work.
The first publication or the journal you submit to is not obligated to accept and publish your work. But this is not because they dislike your work or the ideas you have put forward. Instead, they are obligated by their set of rules and regulations.
Repeated rejections don’t reflect the value of your work. Instead, it means that your work has not found the perfect home for it. You can be the best writer the world is yet to see and can still be rejected — to the point that you may feel that your manuscript is trash.
But you must also realize that,
‘What is one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.’
What you can do: You have to keep trying until you find the publisher and readers who value your work as much as you do. Rejection is part of the process until you find such people.
6. Importance of taking breaks
Like any other job, writing is still a job — even if done on a freelance basis. Doing the same thing repeatedly can become burdensome sometimes, to the extent that you may even start questioning why you started in the first place — the early signs of burning out and writer’s block.
What you can do: It’s okay to take breaks from writing to clear your head once in a while — taking breaks will make you return with new, focused ideas. You will no longer have to force yourself to produce words and get your creative juices to flow. It will give you the courage to explore new perspectives and reimagine your stories.
7. Importance of doing something new each day
This is essential for you as a creator and a writer. Unless you don’t try and explore something new, what new will you have to write about?
When you go out and do something you have never done before, you get exposed to a new angle — new perspectives and unique ideas start molding into your writing. The realization will start daunting on you that there is so much in the world waiting for you to explore and write about.
What you can do: Try new things. Visit new places. Meet new people.
Every time you spend time with different people, you will discover a new voice, a new idea, and a unique story. Your imagination can have gaps, which you can expand when you have real people help you fill them.
There are unlimited skills that a writer may learn over-time. However, there are a few skills you can start working on right away.
- Learn how to make a proper, detailed schedule with the number of articles or the word count you aim for. Then stick to it.
- Learn how to market yourself and your works. Start marketing yourself early — without spamming your audience. Start small. Create a newsletter. Share your posts.
- Learn grammar to the best of your ability. Read some of your favorite authors and their writing style. Focus on what you can learn from them. If possible, take up some grammar courses. Writing with Flair by Shani Raja is an excellent place to start.
- Learn how to edit your write-ups.
- Learn to be patient with rejections. They are as much a part of the writing process as much as the art of writing itself.
- Go easy on yourself and learn to take breaks.
- Learn to be open to new ideas. Explore new projects, places, and people. They will help give you a fresh perspective each time.