It’s a question I’ve said, and heard, as often as the sunset. What plagues many writers is the dire scenario of being static, progression in limbo, sorely hoping to achieve another milestone to hang on the mental mantle.
But we don’t always get graced with the Muse’s inspirations that will soon carry us to the next step of success. Rather, we wonder what improving as a writer may mean — strengthening our vocab, streamlining our sentence structure, brainstorming catchier ideas to attract an editor’s ear, fine-tuning our, ugh, brand?
All of the above and then some, I’ve learned.
Yes, improve how you craft your writing, whether it’s a poem or article or novel or grant application. You want to be a better writer than you were last year, or even a month ago, and how that looks is entirely up to you. I know some writers who expand their vocabulary by reading the dictionary and making note of which words that tickle their fancy, perhaps sliding them into their next work in progress. I know other writers who visit writer groups to share drafts they want feedback on, no matter the bruising their ego will take.
Moving forward as a writer could translate into partnering with a coach, like myself, to find those weak spots and energize them with some exercises. Much like a visit to the gym could ]require a helping hand from, say, a trainer, so too does the writer need an outsider perspective on what is working and what isn’t flowing smoothly.
I remember coaching a writer who needed to improve how they transitioned from idea to idea in a non-fiction article. That writer just couldn’t nail down that jump each idea needs in order to feel like it’s a seamless transition the reader barely notices. Once we identified this weak area, we focused on ironing out the flaws until a draft included those transitional statements every essay needs. He couldn’t have been happier to be moving forward in that small but substantial way.
And that’s what I want to leave you with here: your progress as a writer doesn’t have to be seismic. It could be small wins that leave you grinning madly at the end of the day, whether it’s scoring a podcast interview to better market your services as a writer or learning a new way to end a short story.
The only option not on the table? Staying still. Leave that to the street performers.