How To Become a Better Writer In Three Easy Steps

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

There are terrors in the night and I am one of them. You don’t want to know what I do, where I go or who I do it with/to. That is because your freedom and safety is based upon the work of hard men who aren’t afraid to do what needs to be done.

That headline promises to make you a better writer in three easy steps but I am not sure that I believe it. I want to believe it because I want to become a better writer. I need to believe it because belief is a key element in making that happen, but I am not sure that it is as simple as three easy steps.

You see I wrote that headline for me and not for you. I did it because lately I feel like I have become a one trick pony. Most of my stories follow a formula and I don’t like that. I want to be better than that. Every time I read the posts and and stories over here I roll my eyes.

That is not to say that some of it isn’t good because it is. I feel like my writing is improving. I am making progress. I really liked these last three posts:

They aren’t perfect but I see progress and that makes me happy. Still I feel like I keep hitting the bag in the same place and that concerns me. I want to be good in a variety of styles, not just one. And if I can push myself up the ladder a little bit than I will reach for great.

Failure

I played two hours of ball tonight and lost every game I played in. That rarely happens. Most of the time my team wins, but not tonight. We lost 7 games. We lost 7 games because I played poorly and my teammates didn’t play as a team.

It drives me crazy. We normally win because we play smarter than the other guys. We normally win because I have figured out how to use limited talent to take over the game. Some of the guys have begun to ask me why my teams don’t lose. They don’t see the connection yet. They haven’t figured out the angles.

But I have. I see the game differently than they do. I know what I need to do to make us win.

Nothing Comes Easy

It is not entirely fair nor true to say that nothing comes easy. Writing is easy for me but that doesn’t mean that it is always good or that these posts work the way that I want to. Often they don’t, but I don’t give up. I keep pushing.

That is part of why my team usually wins. I don’t quit on the play and I try to play with guys who do the same. We aren’t winning because our talent is so much better than the other teams. We win because we gut it out and work harder.

It is what I try to do here. It is why I write so many posts and update this blog so frequently. I figure that if I write enough my words will begin to come together more easily and they’ll sing the song I want them to sing.

Music

Music is my constant companion. My inspiration, my salvation, my sunshine and my field of dreams. Here is a quick snapshot of what I have been listening to this evening.

  • Something In The Way She Moves- James Taylor
  • Born To Run- Bruce Springsteen
  • Visions of Paradise- Mick Jagger
  • I Can Love You Like That- John Michael Montgomery
  • A View To A Kill- Duran Duran
  • Theme from Harry’s Game- Clannad
  • Texas Flood- Stevie Ray Vaughn

There was more than that, there is always more than that. I can’t think of a time where music isn’t on my mind. I can’t think of a moment where it doesn’t give me an idea or move me.

Dancing

I am watching Christopher Walken dance in Weapon of Choice and thinking about how I wish that I was a better dancer or at least able to be less self conscious about it. I dance with the children all the time and I do it with reckless abandon.

There is great joy in dancing and my children radiate it. When I let go and let my body move I tell more stories but these are tales without words.

Words, Writers and Writing

Dancing makes me think of writing because when I am at my best the words flow from my fingertips onto the keyboard. I don’t think about what I am doing or second guess myself. I simply write. I just write with reckless abandon and no regard for whether they work well.

I want to dance as easily as I write and I want my wo i rds to move you to dance.

So that is why I keep pushing and pulling, tugging and yelling. That is why I post more frequently than five bloggers put together.  I do it because the only way I know how to improve is to work at it.

But don’t think that just because I have some natural talent I don’t wish that I really could become a better writer in three easy steps.

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10 Comments

  1. Jens P. Berget April 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I can’t dance at all. And that’s because I never practice. I am not sure if I have ever really danced.

    About music. Do you listen to music when you write? I sometimes do, but most times I am not.

    • Jack May 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      I know how to do a few steps here and there, but I am not much of a dancer. As for music, well I rarely write without something playing in the background.

  2. Bell April 25, 2012 at 3:03 am

    Walken was born to do creepy — why, the man even *dances* creepily. Which is great, by the way.

    I think there’s an object lesson in the way Christopher Walken does everything and that is, nobody out-Walkens Walken. Even impressions of Walken are bound to fail because the man is his own parody. He was doing self-reference and self-deconstruction and meta-ironic commentary long, long before Madam Cuckoo (aka Lady Gaga).

    So a creator of any sort is a person with a mind so great, so all-encompassing, that they pretty much become a blank. They’re so great that you can look at them and fill the blank with whatever you want.

    Walken has played all sorts of characters, from a genocidal angel [The Prophecy] to a loving (if paranoid) father [Blast from the Past]. But he’s always got that presence, that aura. What’s the key similarity between writers and actors? They must both learn to eat, sleep and breathe the craft.

    This is by no means a pragmatic suggestion, but I’d say the first step to becoming a great writer or a great *anything* is to let your passion do the talking and your fingers do the walking — to become so utterly consumed, enraptured, absorbed by your calling that you’re driven to ceaseless work, work that keeps you awake into the small hours because going to sleep at the wrong moment would simply kill the vibe, yank you out of the zone — and, through the oracular voice of passion, to find others who inspire you, be they alive or dead, and take all they have to offer.

    Make your dictionary start with the word “Insatiable.”

    • Jack April 25, 2012 at 7:15 am

      Hi John,

      I am right there with you on the obsessive/compulsive need to keep working on our art/craft, whatever it may be. That is something I relate to because when I really feel the need to write I have to do something or it just makes me crazy.

      Walken is fun because he is that walking caricature, just a crazy character that is real. I sometimes wonder what he is really like in person.

  3. Hyacynth April 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    “I want to dance as easily as I write and I want my words to move you to dance.” Yes. This. I completely feel you on this sentence.

  4. Madison Woods April 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I can see my own progress when I read back over things I’d written in the past. But since I keep seeing improvement even now, I guess I’m still progressing. Probably that will be the way it is for the rest of my life, and that’s a good thing. When I look back at my blog’s genesis, I can see improvements in getting messages across in that format, too. So I think there’s hope for me. I’m sure it’s the same for you too. Best wishes for your writerly progression!

    • Jack April 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Madison,

      It always makes me happy to see the progress that I have made. It is both gratifying and rewarding to know that there is something to show for all of the effort that we have put in to our blogs and writing in general.

  5. Jeff Wise April 24, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Getting better at writing has been a process for me. I’ve always liked to write but I wasn’t always good at it.

    It has taken several years for me to become fairly good at it. My wife is a copy editor and she would constantly have to makes changes, edits and rewrites but after five years she’s having to do less and less of it.

    I guess repetition was the key for me.

    I need to tell better stories though.

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