/12 tips to use today

12 tips to use today

Writing strategies are a great way to provide some structure to the subjective field of creative writing. Even famous authors use writing strategies, so it’s no wonder we should follow the lead of those we respect. Let’s go straight to it!

Writing Strategies: Defined

We can define writing strategies as a process that creatives take to establish a course of action that will help them achieve their goals. As with health strategies, career strategies, and study strategies, what works for one person may not work for you, and vice versa.

Below are twelve different writing strategies for you to try. See what works best for you – keep the tips that work and discard the ones that don’t!

#1 – Read in your genre

Reading in the genre you write is one of the best writing strategies out there. Getting familiar with your genre not only teaches you about voice and genre tropes, but also:

  • It shows you which plots work.
  • It acts as a visual example of what you sell.
  • It portrays ideas that you can use as inspiration.
  • Draws their attention to when to use (and break) the writing rules

Read as many books in your genre as you can.

#2 – Read multiple genres

In addition to reading in your genre, I’ve found that reading various genres helps me notice the rules of writing not just in the genre I’m writing in but many others. The way a writer uses a writing rule in romance fiction will probably be different in a business book. Noticing these differences gives insight into various rules.

#3 – Take a class

Whether it’s signing up for a class at your community college, taking a class at a nearby university, signing up for an online program, or watching a free webinar, the more classes you can take on writing, the better.

#4 – Memorize the writing rules

Show, don’t tell, active versus passive, using one tense per book, using your senses… When you understand these rules (and more) at a deep level, you’ll spot their correct and incorrect usage in writing. This will help you as you make edits later.

#5 – Understand time

New writers often struggle to properly manage time in their writing. A paragraph can include past and present tense, without them realizing it. The better you understand tense, the more professional your writing will appear.

For example, consider the egg riddle that keeps people guessing: “I have 6 eggs, cracked 2, fried 2, ate 2. How many do I have left?” If you can spot two different tenses within the puzzle, you’ll easily spot the answer.

#6 – Practice your voice

Voice distinguishes writers from one another, and each writer naturally has a unique writing style. He watches how he writes emails, sends texts, talks to his best friend and then compares it to how others do. This is your unique voice.

Then, instead of impersonating the voices of other writers you respect, practice writing in your natural style. Continued, well-executed practice will help you become comfortable with your own unique writing voice.

#7 – Watch TV shows

TV shows are a great way to continue your writing education over the weekend or after a long day at work. There are several things you should pay attention to when playing your next series:

  • How does the verbiage of the characters differ from each other?
  • What mannerisms make a character unique
  • What is the tone of the show?

Then consider these same questions about your own work in progress.

#8 – Read a script

Although it is a bit laborious, writing strategies that may bore you can result in huge benefits. Reading scripts shows the power of concise dialogue and the importance of removing all the details that don’t add to the story.

You can watch some scripts online for free, make a purchase at Barnes & Noble, or find your favorite movie and see if you can order it. Pay close attention to the dialogue and how many lines each character has.

#9 – Meet your daily word count goal

Ever since I started writing, my writing mentor pointed out that many authors miss their deadlines. If you want to set yourself apart, set a writing deadline and stick to it. This will help your marketing efforts work much better.

How do you meet your deadline? Start small by getting to know your daily word count goals. Writing strategies are important, but no matter how good your strategy is, if you can’t meet the deadlines… are they really that useful? So do your best to stay on track!

#10 – Edit with track changes

Editing can feel like cutting up your favorite piece of art. To encourage yourself to cut what needs to be cut and rephrase what needs to be changed, copy your manuscript and paste it into a separate document.

Then turn on Track Changes (in Microsoft Word). Of the above writing strategies, this particular one will allow you to see your old and new version, in other words, your progress! Also, if you find that you liked the original better, you still have a copy in a separate document.

#11 – Print your work

Reading what I write on a physical page helps typos stand out in a way that reading on a screen simply doesn’t. Finding typos and correcting them is one area that distinguishes good writers from great writers.

Manuscripts can be long, so consider printing yours single-spaced, double-sided, and with smaller margins to fit more text on a single page.

#12 – Mindset matters

Of these eleven writing strategies, without a healthy mindset, you are likely to make slow progress or no progress at all. Impostor syndrome, fear of failure, and something as simple as a busy schedule often keep aspiring writers from becoming successful writers.

With a healthy mindset, you can go much further than you ever dreamed possible. See setbacks as opportunities for growth, write block as an excuse to keep going, and success as something to be grateful for. When you have a healthy mindset, it’s much easier to have a healthy career.

Writing Strategies to Use This Year

Now that you have a list of twelve different writing strategies, it’s time to test them out so you can determine which ones work best for you. It may take some time to find which writing strategies are best for you, so consider using the following template to get started:

Month 1: Tip 1-3

Read in your genre. Read various genres. Take a class.

Month 2: Tip 4-6

Memorize the writing rules. Understand time. Practice the voice.

Month 3: Tip 7-9

Watch TV shows. Read a script. Meet your daily word count goal.

Month 4: Tip 10-12

Edit with Track Changes turned on. Print your work. Choose a healthy mindset.

It’s time to get to work

Trying several strategies a month will help you become familiar with them. Once you understand them and get used to using them, you can make a clear choice about which writing strategies work best for you.

While it may seem like a big investment to spend four months breaking down which writing strategies to use, consider the long-term benefits to your writing career. Take some time up front, invest in choosing what’s best for you, and then commit to sticking with it!

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