Some Tips for Better Writing
Writing is a Skill and an Art
There are a set of rules and guidelines in writing that helps make our art intelligible and keeps things properly flowing. I have found grammar and vocabulary to be complicated and never ending. These are some of the skills in writing, things anyone can memorize and learn. They are as a brushstroke is to a painter. I'm not sure if I ever will memorize every single grammatical rule or if I can stow away as many words as Shakespeare. What I do know is that every day I write, my experience grows and my art improves. Writing is best practiced every single day, as often as is possible. Not so much to help skills in writing, but to help your art style in writing. Everyone has a literary fingerprint, but if you do not have a good grasp on the skills, it is hard to see it come through. All of the following things I use to help develop my forever love of writing. Hopefully they will help you to improve upon your thoughts and structure too.
Developing the Skills
To keep myself sharp in grammar and other base skills, I read. Both published books and other writers' work. Other writers who ask you for editing are great ways to improve your own skills. For one, most people make a lot of mistakes in a rough draft and it gives you an opportunity to improve in spotting them. If you don't know whether or not something is right, you look it up, because that's what good editors do. It is a way for you to help a fellow friend, and also remember a thing or two for your own writing. Published books are great ways to see how things are supposed to be on paper. Over the years novels alone have taught me grammar, vocabulary, and many different sentence structures to incorporate into my own stories. There is probably no better way to develop your style than to read the styles of many other authors.
Foster Your Creativity
I always mourn an idea lost. Now that I can write clearly and concisely ideas will be bouncing around in my head just about every other minute. Majestic strings of words that go together nicely and sound positively dramatic will crawl randomly around my thoughts as my day goes on. I forget a lot of these, which is a shame, considering they could've been gold. One of the ways I am fighting this is by keeping a pen and piece of paper with me at all times. Jotting down a few simple words will make my mind go back and remember it all later, and then my idea is not gone forever! I recommend buying a tiny little notepad and perhaps a tiny little pen when you are out in the world. Some people can store notes inside their smartphones, so use whatever is available to you. For home or a friend's house, I keep one of my journals and pen nearby or in the next room. People will think you're crazy suddenly sprinting for a piece of paper, but for a writer any idea is valuable, and dang it we should fight to preserve them!
Polish What You Have
I recently went back to one of my oldest stories, I believe I was just getting out of middle school when I started it. My ideas back then were wild and crazy. My writing was rather untamed. But that piece of work I hammered out years ago isn't useless. I slowly combed through it, deleting sentences, changing and adding words. It became completely updated and new, it became quite good. Do not throw away a piece you think you've written poorly. Going through and editing old works is one of the best things about having a PC with lots of memory, and it was amazing how much I realized I have improved. I now keep all of my ideas, good or bad, in case some time in the future I have an urge to go back and revive them. Another way to polish what you have? Giving your work to good, honest friends. Make sure you tell them before that you are looking for harsh critics, and not supportive friends. Hopefully they'll get the hint to mark up your paper in red.
Get a Thesaurus and Go Nuts
Although I do use online thesauruses more than my paper version, having one of these for the times I am away from my computer is essential. Besides books, these teach me hundreds of vocabulary words. Do not think of looking up a word to use as cheating. Eventually, the words I looked up I memorized and learned. I began to use them as naturally as I use the words I know by heart. It is an invaluable tool to help you spice up a boring paragraph and to get rid of repeated words which you especially don't want. As a last note, I believe it is better to just go nuts with writing. Some people like to set aside a time block in order for them to write every day. If that is something that works for you, great. I write when I feel like it, I do not have a block of time. If you find that you're just not writing enough, sticking to a schedule might be of help. Try to pick a time when your imagination is at its most active. However if you are like me, you are writing every day anyway, and a schedule would simply muck things up.