Monday, March 11, 2013

The Quick and Dirty Tips to Improve Your Writing

There is a lot of advice in the blogosphere for us writers. Blogs, books, webinars, virtual classrooms. It boils down to this:

Don’t look at the monitor

I realize this is a strange bit of advice but hear me out. While the creative juices are flowing during the first draft, it is natural to look at the monitor. Don’t. While typing, look at a blank piece of paper, the floor, the wall. Glance at the monitor and keyboard to make sure you aren't doing this number: dp,yjomh ;olr but otherwise, keep your brain moving. 

Don’t let the monitor play Squirrel! with your mind.

Research examples of established writing.

When I begin a new book, my mind is in two places. First, I am into the story. Second, I question myself. What interested me in this book? What is it about the first line/page/paragraph that drew me in? I analyze these sections.

Scenes that pop aren't just a source of good reading. They are also examples of good writing. I blow them up like a digital engine to see the moving parts. A play-by-play scrutiny from my writer’s eye, grammatically and emotionally. Why did the MC’s actions affect me and when? At what point did my mind’s eye lock into this scene and why?

Explore your feelings

Humans and writers (non-humans?) have depths that remain hidden. A private place that doesn’t come out to play much. If you want your writing to be real, bring those hidden places out. Give them a venue, your manuscript, your scene-stealers.


You've heard this advice many times: ‘Pick a time of day to write when distractions are few’. Blah, blah blah. This borders on fantasy land. 

Interruptions from your job and loved ones who insist on bugging you, (seriously, it’s a wonder I haven’t put a shock collar on the hubby) are a fact. It happens. Deal with it (shock collars on sale at Amazon?). 

But you do have control over the internet.

When you write, WRITE. Do not let the siren’s call of the internet pull you away.

Check no facts, spellings, alternate emotions. No email pings. No images. No videos. Write.

Give it up for a few days

Ben Franklin said 
Guests like fish begin to stink after a few days
So does our writing. Give that manuscript a rest. Let that beloved prose snooze for a few days. I guarantee the bad parts will rise to the surface.

Do you have any priceless writing tips?


  1. Pass on the shock collar!
    I couldn't write at work. Way too many distractions.

  2. The Practice Room (link at my blog) is a great way to write solidly for one hour sans internet and then meet back to chat about your progress, or lack thereof. There are a variety of practice times and it's a great way to meet other writers and talk about writing. I usually go Monday nights. Having some great critique partners is also priceless :)

  3. Great advice! Sometimes it helps to just take a walk and build up some ideas too - then, when you sit down to write, you're ready to go.

  4. Checking facts is my worst habit! Then I get lost in the research, cuz research is fun and interesting. But yeah, if I really want to write, I just write it and then do research later (again) to be sure I'm not messing with a fable origin, getting names wrong, or putting Los Angeles in Kentucky.

    I do stare at the keyboard, not that I need to, it probably distracts my fingers from the correct keys; but I don't want my internal editor to be distracted by all the spelling errors that my rabid thoughts create. As long as I verify my fingers are on home row, I know something has to be readable in the re-read :)

    These are great tips. Thanks for sharing them.



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