The Key to Improving Your Writing

The usual suspects:

  1. Read and when you can’t read, listen to books. Your writing improves the more you read.
  2. Write every day. If you struggle with the daily commitment, write as often as possible, making your irregular schedule a homecoming, a haven from the impossibility of your life. Writing often improves your writing.
  3. See the world you walk through every day. Pay close attention to the people around you, the young girl with streaks of blue in her hair, the gages in her earlobes and the trail of tattooed stars that begin at the base of her neck and end somewhere beneath the ripped Grateful Dead T-shirt she wears. Notice the nervous man standing in line at your favorite Barista and fit him out with a story the explains his jumpy disposition. Mentally note the color of the sunset you ignore. Notice the street you walk or drive down in route to the office and ask yourself if you could describe it in minute detail with your eyes closed?
  4. Be fearless, step out of your comfort zone. Breathe in new air and surroundings regularly. You need not cross an ocean, sometimes venturing to a new neighborhood is on par with riding a jet plane to an exotic destination. I found my urban girl with streaks of blue in the Castro (San Francisco), known for it dangerously fascinating and vibrant inhabitants, boisterous soapbox philosophers, corner musicians, and the miscreants suspiciously eyeing tourists from under their hooded jackets. The flamboyant greetings and behavior of the residents are in stark contrast to my sleepy neighborhood the other side of the Bay.
  5. Block the noise from your head, move Ms. Demoralizing Doubt and Mr. Frankly A. Failure, to the outer banks of your mind, and write unencumbered. Write freely. Write passionately. Write honestly. Soar on the page as your thoughts do would when the sun burns into the horizon where possibilities are endless, your hope boundless, and failure is inconsequential.
  6. Limit your availability to families and friends; prohibit social media intrusions—ask yourself if the world wants to know what you had for lunch?
  7. Listen to music, watch documentaries, indulge yourself in afternoon of movie watching, take a screenwriting or poetry class (assuming you are not a poet or a screenwriter, and if you are, try something contrary to your comfort zone), cosset your muse, feed her/him delectable morsels: read words aloud from favorite authors you cannot forget, look through a coffee table book filled with black and white photographs of faces—study the eyes and find their story. Never forget the eyes hold the key.
  8. Invest in you, in your passionate self and the dream to soar above of the confines of the life you accepted without consideration. Dreams are the gateway to our ethereal selves, the wings that allow us to take flight, the key to surviving the churn that sometimes accompanies the day-to-day drudgery.
  9. Taste, Touch, and Feel, use each of your senses; inhale the world that surrounds you. Revel in the sensation. Close your eyes and see the world without your eyes.
  10. Believe. Hold on tight to your belief in yourself, as if your life were hanging in the balance as if you were walking a tightrope as if your next breath hinged on your trust in yourself. A writer’s ability is questioned daily, battered, beaten, kicked around, stomped on, dragged through the street’s gutters, tossed carelessly into slush piles. If your faith wanes, even the slightest fraction, if your heart quivers, if you let your psyche to linger in the shadow of a doubt, if you question your passion even once, the crippling virus of defeat, inadequacy, takes root and fester. Don’t let it happen, believe.

Any secrets you want to share with me?