Are you bored of your own writing? Or just not excited about it anymore? Or do you feel frustrated because no matter how hard you work you don’t feel like you’re getting better?
I have published eight books in different genres (fiction, poetry, and nonfiction) and I teach writing at the university level. I have mentored writers at various stages in their lives and careers.
One of the core problems writers encounter is that most of the advice they find out in the world, online or in books, does not apply to what they are trying to do.
What you are trying to do is become a writer unlike other writers. But most of the advice you will find on how to improve your writing focuses on becoming more like other writers.
Instead of writing like other people, you should try writing the “wrong” way. You should expose yourself to a wider variety in your reading. You should attempt to stretch your skills by delving into experimental approaches.
Are you having a hard time writing dialogue? Maybe you should take all of the advice you can find about writing dialogue. Or maybe you should write a story with no dialogue.
Do you feel like your descriptions are weak? Maybe you should focus on writing more poetic descriptions, like they used to do in the eighteenth century. Or maybe you should describe every object in obsessive clinical detail, like the French nouveau roman.
Maybe you’re trying to write a poem about an orange, but it’s falling flat. Try a lipogram where you cannot use the letter “o” so that you can’t call it an “orange” or say that it’s round.
There are a million things you could do to build your skills as a writer and become a writer unlike all other writers.
Trying to normalize your style to be more like other writers is creative and career death.
This is a massive issue and there are no easy answers. But here’s a good place to start.
Below you’ll find all of the podcast and articles where I discuss creative issues around writing itself. If you have a problem that isn’t addressed here, please contact me and tell me what’s wrong.
- August 4 — The Seven Seas of Story
- October 22 — Thriller Author Andrew Pyper On Writing Outlines
- September 24 — Writing in a Haunted House II: The Reckoning
- April 27 — What Can Writers Learn from Leatherface?
- January 31 — Best Screenwriting Books
- December 4 — Making Comics with GMB Chomichuk, part 2
- November 27 — Making Comics with GMB Chomichuk, part 1
- November 20 — Eden Robinson on Crafting the Trickster Trilogy
- October 30 — David Annandale on Writing Tie-In Fiction
- October 9 — Writing in a Haunted House
- October 2 — Natalee Caple on Writing Titles
- September 18 — Daniel Scott Tysdal on Writing Exercises