How to learn writing skills
The learning process never stops for authors. There’s always something new we can learn whether it’s new writing skills or a tool. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and other fundamental writing abilities are things we work to perfect, and we also research our form (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) and genre (romance, suspense, fantasy, etc.). For instance, in addition to mastering the fundamentals of writing, storytellers must also learn the plot, characterization, setting, dialogue, and other components of stories.
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It can seem overpowering at times. It can be challenging to know where to begin and how to maintain learning over the long term because there is so much to learn and so many different ways to learn it. Despite the fact that people are writing for years, they are constantly picking up new writing ideas.
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The following advice provides some methods to learn writing skills with an emphasis on lifelong learning.
As long as the book you’re reading is well written and especially if you pause to research questions that come up while you’re reading, you will organically learn writing skills through reading (such as looking up a word in the dictionary). Although listening to audiobooks won’t help you learn fundamental writing abilities like grammar, spelling, and punctuation, they are a great way to learn about form and genre.
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2. Keep accessible fundamental writing tools
When we were younger, carrying a dictionary was impossible. In the past, we were unable to travel with a glossary, thesaurus, set of encyclopedias, and books on the art of writing. But now that smartphones have been developed, all of these tools may fit in a pocket or a purse. Even though people still prefer paperbacks for craft books, having quick and convenient access to a dictionary and thesaurus on a smartphone has been quite helpful. When a question arises, make sure you research it and memorize the answer.
3. Attend a workshop or class
Ideally, you can find a course in a recognized university or community college in your neighborhood or online. Classes and courses can also be found in local bookstores, community centers, and libraries. Additionally, there are a lot of online courses available. Ensure that any course you enroll in is being offered by a reputable source.
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Among your most crucial tools will be books on the subject. We’ve discovered that books on the craft are the most practical, educational, and enlightening study materials, other than reading and taking classes. You can get broad books on writing and creativity as well as books on particular forms, genres, and writing elements (like plot, characterization, etc.). We think you can never have too many of these!
5. Develop the practice of taking notes.
Maintaining thorough notes on your queries and the ideas you’re learning while reading a book, a poem, or a style manual will help you retain new knowledge and abilities while also creating a record that you may consult at any time.
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Author interviews have given me a great deal of knowledge about all aspects of writing, from the process of coming up with a writing idea to the process of publishing and marketing a writing project. Anyone who is eager to learn from authors can benefit greatly from their practical, hands-on experience. We strongly advise looking for author interviews, especially from your favorite authors, whether you read, watch, or listen.
These days, many subscriptions are free (like Writing Forward!). Search for blogs and podcasts that are frequently updated and accommodate your schedule. To be sure you’re getting reliable information, be sure to examine the source’s legitimacy. So, to learn good writing skills, you must be involved in different channels.
8. Work with a writing tutor
You can gain a lot from a writing coach if you’re further along in your writing and getting ready to submit or publish a significant project, like a novel, and it fits within your budget. While attentively leading you to make major improvements to your project and your writing overall, a competent coach will help you keep your creative vision.
9. Learn from editors
In a similar vein, an editor may teach you a lot. Once more, this is mainly geared at authors who are close to publication or submission. A developmental editor will examine the text’s content and organization. A developmental editor will examine your project’s content and organization and offer comments on elements like story, character, and pacing. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure will all be reviewed by a copy editor. You’ll immediately identify the errors you commit time and time again in your writing and be able to stop doing them in the future.
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10. Practice your craft constantly
Regardless of what you are learning, practice is crucial. Even if you can only spend a page or a half-hour on your practice each day, try to write anything. Scheduling learning time is an excellent approach to make sure that you’re continually improving your abilities. You don’t have to set aside a lot of time to continue learning how to write. For instance, each episode of the Grammar Girl podcast lasts only five minutes. One podcast can be listened to daily or once a week.
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You can resolve to read three craft books each year. Every little amount helps, even if you’re just learning, and many writers remember knowledge better when it’s consumed in smaller chunks.
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