Writing well requires the same stuff any other hobby or passion requires: constant focus on improvement. If you are not trying to constantly improve yourself you are eventually going to hit a brick wall with whatever you are doing and you will be forced into IMPROVEMENT whether you want it or not. You are going to come to a dead end road or at least a road where you MUST turn either left or right. Either ways requires action on your part. If it is a dead end road, you are still left with a very big decision. Stay where you are at and stare at the wall until something moves you or turn around and go back.
“The best writers never stop striving for ways to write better (Writer’s Digest, 2012). Such is the same for YOU in whatever you do. Whether you are waitressing, counting numbers behind a desk, or building the newest time machine (secretly in your basement because the past twelve were epic failures). You have to ALWAYS be striving for something better. If you are in your job or hobby or whatever and you aren’t striving for something better…watch out! WARNING: Complacent people are drop-kicked on their ass just as much as those who are struggling and fighting and you know what….it hurts them a hell of a lot more than it hurts the ones who are fighting for something.
So how to writers (or whoever you are and whatever you do) do to improve themselves willingly?
1. You must spend time with your writing, your craft, your passion at least a little bit every day. Even if you can’t get into it for three hours, you can spend some mental time with it for a little bit every day. But it is best to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour doing something with it.
2. A piece of writing, a hobby, a craft…they are a living things. We must always be asking ourselves how we can form a better relationship with it, as though it were another human. You have to ask and determine what you want from it today. Ask yourself where you would like to go with it today?
3. Stop being afraid to add precision to your routines. Some people tend to stick with the…basics. The outline of the story, the general sketch of a painting, the overall gathering of supplies. When are you going to delve deeper into it? Start adding the specific key details that will bring it alive, that will add more spark and depth to it. (Be warned: this part sometimes takes sweat, tears, and even blood and it can be painful but the end result is very much worth it.
4. Find YOUR voice. No matter what it is you are trying to do, there is nobody that does it quite like you. Whether its painting, writing, serving a guest, or even cleaning find the YOU that is evident in your work. If you haven’t yet, then start looking for it immediately. I know a woman has worked in retail for a long, long time and we all know customer service oriented work is not the best and exciting thing. It’s easy to get lost in the mix of all the others who work around you. But everybody knows her! She found her ‘voice’. She found a particular niche in her field and she put a spin on it that nobody else does quite as well as her. She goes home exhausted and sometimes she hates her job; we all have those moments, days, or decades. BUT she found her VOICE. She will always be known as she is because of what she does differently than anyone else in the entire store.
5. Find a pace that suits your life but also is going to help you get where you want to go faster. I hate jogging. Ugh! Oh how I hate it. Sometimes though, we have to force ourselves to sprint because walking just doesn’t get the job done. If you are comfortable with the pace of your life then that means you need to start jogging. We must constantly force ourselves to get out of the comfortable zone, even for short moments.
6. Find others with whom you can share your desire for improvement. Just as having a work-out buddy helps you burn the fat faster, finding someone who has similar goals and dreams as you and pairing up with them can mean the world of change for you both. I just successfully completed my first ever NaNoWriMo. I don’t know exactly how much my three friends who were taking on the same challenge felt but I am pretty sure the nights of constant complaining and similar many nights of supporting each other through the rough times made a SIGNIFICANT difference.
7. If the structure of your passion, writing, hobby, ect isn’t working for you then it is definitely not going to inspire something in someone else. If your story seems sluggish, you can bet others are gonna think its boring. If your art is drab for you while you are creating it, you can better believe people are not going to look twice at it.
A constant mindfulness of IMPROVING yourself will always produce something. Sometimes it will give you flat tires and other times it will spin you around the world in one breath. But if you aren’t really seeking to improve whatever it is you care about, whether it’s a job, a passion, a hobby, or even if it’s just YOURSELF, you are going to stand in one place until something FORCES the change to happen around you. Either way, life is never going to stay the same no matter how hard you like it the way it is or how much you like it right now. So you can strive to improve yourself or forces of nature will make it happen on its own.