the black vernacular

6 Tips to Be a Better Writer

As a writer, I get a lot of people telling me they wish they could write or were better at writing. I firmly believe that you are either a great writer or can be a good one. It is not everyone’s thing. Some have asked me how I became a writer and the truth is, I just had the ‘it’ factor. Being a naturally good writer just made me want to be better. Everyone who wants to become better can! I have a few tips that helped me and I hope they are helpful to you as well.

1. Think About Writing Every Day

Some people will tell you that you need to write every day. This is not realistic for me. I’m not inspired to write every day and some days I just don’t feel like it. I even went through a long period of depression when I didn’t write anything. But I thought about it. I thought about it until I could think of nothing else. You have to think about what you would say, how you would write a conversation, how you would describe a room. Think it to yourself.

Make up the most perfect and beautiful sentences. If those thoughts compel you to write, then write. Don’t force yourself to write every day. Your work will feel forced and reading it will be a labor to you and anyone you share it with. The weight of your words is strongly guided by the state of mind you’re in when you write them. So, if you’re uninspired, don’t force it. Think  it.

the black vernacular

2. Write Down Ideas

I write down all of my ‘really good ideas.’ I have a list of ideas for shows, books, and restaurants. Writing an idea down can help on those days when you don’t feel like writing. If you think of something that would be great to write about when you feel like writing, at least write down the thought. Sometimes I use those little ideas as prompts. Sometimes those prompts become amazing stories or poems.

I also recommend writing down things that someone else says, in passing, or a snippet of a stranger’s conversation, if it’s interesting. My college professor had our class do this as a writing exercise and I have grown to love the snippets of stolen conversations as prompts. It gives me a chance to create a world in which the strangers are my characters. Real-life prompts.

the black vernacular

3. Keep a Journal

I don’t keep a journal in the traditional sense – where I talk about my day and what’s bothering me, but I do take a notebook most places. What I do is write down ideas and doodle little monsters in the margins. Sometimes I write poetry and little stories. Journaling in the traditional way is not for me, it may not be for you either, but keeping a journal is still a good idea. Find your way to journal. There are no rules.

I have a page that lists all the books I want to read. There is a page where I took down measurements for my refrigerator and then drew little flowers around the numbers. I have pages of a story I intend to finish and publish. Journals allow you to write for yourself. Not everyone will write for an audience, but writing for yourself – to relax and vent, that’s just as important.

the black vernacular

4. Write From Experience

We have all read the jokes about how men like to write women in books or on-screen, and let’s face it – men are not women. Women are not men. Although there is a generous fluidity of gender, we can’t really speak on the experiences of others. That’s not to say you can’t write about men or women, it’s just an example to remind you not to speak on things you may not be completely versed in.

I remember reading an interview where a writer said her first books failed because she was trying to write a book that would tell the story of every rape victim, but she found that she could only tell her story and hope that they would feel better for knowing it. Write what you know and write it from the heart. Your experience is valuable and will always be different from someone else’s. You don’t need to write for them. Write to them. Share yourself with them. That’s a good book.

the black vernacular

5. Research

It’s ok to write about something you have to learn about. Unless you’re writing a textbook, go for it. I love mythology and I research global mythology whenever I get the chance because that’s what I enjoy reading and writing about. I don’t believe in writer’s block because of my researching methods. Research is key to your outline. An outline is key to not having writer’s block. Researching allows me to go seamlessly from point to point because I know what I’m talking about. There’s no shame in the research game.

the black vernacular

6. Read Daily

I have always believed that good writing goes in hand with healthy reading. Reading has always made me want to write. I get inspired by interesting ideas and great descriptions. There are many writing styles and techniques that I learn when I read. How can you write the next great novel if you haven’t read one? Reading a little of something every day keeps your mind sharp. If you want to write well, you have to read.

the black vernacular

I love to write. Is it my favorite thing to do? No. Do I feel I have been called to do it? Yes. Writing is just something I feel I have to do because it’s a part of me. Writing is my waking thought. I go to sleep thinking about it. I’m writing throughout the day. It’s a healthy habit. I would be said if I couldn’t do it. That being said I still rather be playing video games. You don’t have to devote all your time to writing to be good and you don’t have to stress about getting better. But it is a muscle you have to exercise. Don‘t feel like you need to write constantly. You only need to write consistently. I hope my tips help you the way they help me.

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