I've been writing a long time, and while I'm not the greatest writer in the world, I know that I've improved over the last few years. A friend and I were chatting about what makes a writer better, what makes us feel that we are getting anywhere in the literary world? Is it getting an agent? Is it publishing that first book or finding a home for a short story?
Any of those prove you are getting better as a writer, but how do you even get good enough to accomplish the above things? What steps should you take to put you on a writing path that gives you everything you want?
I think the answers are simple.
1. Set goals. They don't have to be complicated or extreme. A writing goal is personal and should be something that is attainable whether in the short or long term. In fact, I think it's good to set both kinds of goals. Having a mission helps keep you focused.
2. Manage your time wisely. Family, work, writing, social. That's the order of importance for me. When I write, I like to make sure everyone knows that it's my time to be creative and I don't want to be interrupted. Email, Facebook, and surfing the web do not count as managing my time. I try not to do any of those things when I'm working on a story or manuscript.
3.Read. Yes, it may seem like a no brainer, but even as a writer, you should be reading. I think you should read all genres--don't just get stuck in the one you writer. Open yourself up to new experiences and you might discover a new trend in your own writing.
4. Check your ego at the door and let someone critique your work. Writing is a lonely business and often we don't get immediate feedback. Form a group of trusted readers who will be honest with you about your work and how good/bad it is. No matter what the feedback, consider it. Mull it over. Even if you receive negative reviews on a work, challenge yourself to see if the reviewer has a point.
5. Keep a list of ideas. I use a notebook and write down character ideas or plot outlines. Sometimes I forget about them and then re-discover them later. I have several friends who use various programs on their phones to keep track of their ideas.
6. Try to write as often as you can. Yes, I know that writers are supposed to write every day, but sometimes that just doesn't happen. Don't beat yourself up about it. Just try again the next day.