Tip 9: Make a Commitment
Good writing takes time and effort. You've probably heard Thomas Edison's wise words: "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." It's good to listen for your muse, but if she's not available, you still need to make the effort (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 Commit to writing well.
Set goals for your writing practice and stick to them. You can establish goals by time, word count, page count, or blog count. Some writers use a timer or some other method to track the time they spend daily on their writing. In his "13 Writing Tips," Chuck Palahniuk offers this first tip: "When you don't want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings." After the timer goes off, chances are that you'll still feel like writing and will continue for another hour or so. Some writers who use this method don't have the luxury of taking the entire hour in one go. They start the timer, write for 20 minutes or so, and then turn off the timer. Later in the day, they start the timer again and write for another segment of time, stopping and starting the timer each time they sit down to write until they've met their goal of one hour for the day.
Organize a Critique Group
To improve your writing skills, it helps to get feedback from like-minded authors that you trust. One of the best ways to get consistent, helpful feedback for your work is to join or form a critique group. Regular meetings with a steady group of like-minded writers offer several benefits:
- Meeting deadlines. Having to show your work to the group at regular intervals imposes due dates. You'll get more done because you have a schedule and you won't want to miss the opportunity to get your stories critiqued.
- Sharing discoveries. When you meet with other people, you'll naturally share what works well and what doesn't work for writing for the web. You and the other authors might plan time during meetings for more general discussions and socializing.
- Networking. Besides tips on writing and publishing on the web, your critique group can also network, sharing information about websites with appealing content, contests, and practical advice about working habits, motivation, and so forth.
- Developing a thicker skin. It's hard for beginners to share work and take immediate, constructive feedback gracefully. The more you work with others, however, the better you'll able to listen with an open mind and not become defensive.
Take Writing Classes
Be a lifelong learner and take classes regularly to improve your writing skills. Every writing teacher has a different approach; take more than one class to learn different ways to tackle your projects. Find a good, qualified teacher. Don't be afraid to get in touch with the instructor ahead of time and ask questions. Ask any friends who have taken classes for recommendations.
It's also a good idea to make friends with the other students in the class. If it seems right, consider starting a critique workshop with the other students.