My Life in Lists

3 Things (I think) that Have Made Me a Better Writer

1.  Writing fanfiction.  

This is one I've seen had to be defended against so-called "proper" writers.

Whatever anyone might say, fanfiction is a literary genre.  And you know what?  I think it's excellent practice for the writer-in-training.  Well-formed characters, go-to back-stories, and (for the most part) culturally rich settings.  Given the fact that the author is probably a devoted fan of the series/book/program, there's very little research required.  All she has to do is focus on crafting the story: plot, style, and characterization.

Honestly, I think my teenage junk-food fanfiction has prepared me well for my would-be career as an author.
Look at these faded blossoms in the early dawn in the parking lot on your way to work.  Memorize the way they look.  Now, at the end of your day, jot down everything you can remember about them.

2.  Keeping a journal and/or blog.

Journaling is an easy way to practice telling a story.  You or someone you know is the main character, you've experienced the setting first hand, and you have immediate access to all the internal goings-on of the narrator, who is you.  Sometimes, keeping a journal doesn't come in a fluid chronological beginning-middle-end story format, but what it does do is train the would-be writer in how to remember and record details in surroundings, conversations, and actions.

I credit blogging all through my college years to my memory for re-telling anecdotes and conversations almost word-for-word.  Because the Lord knows I can't remember what day of the week my doctor's appointment is on.

Extra bonus: you've got your memories recorded for yourself and future generations, whether they be fond, funny, or melancholy.  You might even return to them much later as inspiration for a novel or memoir.

3.  Reading literature.  

The best writing teacher I know told me, "I teach my writing class like I would a literature class."

Reading fine writing, noting what works and what doesn't, even subconsciously allowing the author's manner of words and storytelling to influence you has to form good habits   The best way to learn how to do something well is to find a good example of it that has already been well done.

What do you think has improved your writing or made you a better author, artist, or poet?



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