Writing strategies are a fantastic way to provide a little structure to the subjective field of creative writing. Even famous authors use writing strategies, so it’s no wonder we should follow the example of those we respect. Let’s get straight into it!
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Writing Strategies: Defined
We can define writing strategies as a process creatives take to set a course of action that will help them meet their goals. As with health strategies, career strategies, and study strategies, what works for one person may not work for you, and vice versa.
Below are twelve different writing strategies for you to try. See what works best for you—keep the tips that work and disregard those that don’t!
#1 – Read In Your Genre
Reading in the genre you write is one of the best writing strategies out there. Not only does familiarizing yourself with your genre teach you about genre voice and tropes, but it also:
- Shows you what plots work
- Acts as a visual example of what sells
- Portrays ideas you can use as inspiration
- Draws your attention to when to use (and break) writing rules
Read as many books in your genre as you can.
#2 – Read Various Genres
Along with reading in your genre, I’ve found that reading various genres helps me notice writing rules across not just the genre I write in but many others. How a writer uses a writing rule in romantic fiction will likely differ in a business book. Noting these differences gives depth of insight on various rules.
#3 – Take A Class
Whether you enroll in a class at your community college, audit a class at a college nearby, sign up for an online program, or watch a free webinar, the more classes you can take on writing, the better.
#4 – Memorize Writing Rules
Show don’t tell, active versus passive, using one tense per book, employing the senses… When you understand these rules (and more) at a deep level, you will spot their proper and improper use in writing. This will help as you engage in edits later on.
#5 – Understand Tense
New writers often struggle to properly manage tense in their writing. One paragraph may include past and present tense, without them realizing it. The better grasp you have on tense, the more professional your writing will appear.
For example, consider the egg riddle that keeps people guessing: “I have 6 eggs, I broke 2, I fried 2, I ate 2. How many do I have left?” If you can spot two different tenses within the riddle, you’ll easily spot the answer.
#6 – Practice Voice
Voice sets writers apart from each other, and each writer naturally has a unique writing style. Notice how you write emails, send texts, talk to your best friend, and then compare it to how others do. This is your unique voice.
Next, rather than impersonate the voices of other writers you respect, practice writing in your natural style. Continual, well-executed practice will help you become comfortable with your own unique writing voice.
#7 – Watch TV Shows
TV shows are a great way to continue your writing education on the weekend or after a long day at work. There are several aspects to pay attention to when binging your next series:
- How do characters’ verbiage differ from each other
- What mannerisms make a character unique
- What is the tone of the show
Then, consider these same questions about your own work-in-progress.
#8 – Read A Script
While a bit laborious, writing strategies that may bore you can result in tremendous benefits. Reading scripts shows the power of concise dialogue and the importance of cutting out every detail that doesn’t add to the story.
You can view some scripts online for free, make a purchase at Barnes & Noble, or search for your favorite movie and see if you can order it. Pay close attention to the dialogue and how many lines each character gets.
#9 – Meet Your Daily Word Count Goal
Since I began writing, my writing mentor stressed that many authors do not meet their deadlines. If you want to set yourself apart, set your writing deadline and meet it. This will help your marketing efforts run much more smoothly.
How do you meet your deadline? Start small by meeting your daily word count goals. Writing strategies matter, but no matter how great your strategy, if you can’t hit your deadlines…are they really that helpful? So just do your best to stay on track!
#10 – Edit With Track Changes
Editing can feel like chopping up your favorite piece of art. To encourage yourself to cut what needs cut and rephrase what needs changed, copy your manuscript and paste it into a separate document.
Next, turn on Track Changes (in Microsoft Word). Of the above writing strategies, this one in particular will allow you to see your old and new version—in other words, your progress! Plus, if you find you liked the original better, you still have a copy in a separate document.
#11 – Print Off Your Work
Reading my writing on a physical page helps typos stand out to me in ways that reading on a screen just doesn’t. Finding typos, and fixing them, is one area that sets good writers apart from great writers.
Manuscripts can get long, so consider printing yours single-spaced, two-sided, and with smaller margins in order to fit more text on a single page.
#12 – Mindset Matters
Of these eleven writing strategies, without a healthy mindset, you will likely progress slowly or not at all. Imposter syndrome, fear of failure, and something as simple as a busy schedule often keep wannabe writers from becoming successful writers.
With a healthy mindset, you can go much further than you dreamed possible. View setbacks as opportunities for growth, writing block as an excuse to push forward, and success as something to be thankful for. When you have a healthy mindset, it’s much easier to have a healthy career.
Writing Strategies To Use This Year
Now that you have a list of twelve different writing strategies, it’s time to try them so you can determine which ones work best for you. It may take some time to find which writing strategies are best for you, so consider using the following template to get started:
Month 1: Tip 1-3
Read in your genre. Read various genres. Take a class.
Month 2: Tip 4-6
Memorize writing rules. Understand tense. Practice voice.
Month 3: Tip 7-9
Watch TV shows. Read a script. Meet your daily word count goal.
Month 4: Tip 10-12
Edit with Track Changes on. Print off your work. Choose a healthy mindset.
Time To Get To Work
Trying several strategies a month will help you familiarize yourself with them. Once you understand and are accustomed to using them, you can make a clear choice on which writing strategies work best for you.
While it may seem like a big time investment to spend four months dividing on which writing strategies you should use, consider the long-term benefits over your writing career. Take some time upfront, invest in choosing what’s best for you, and then commit to following through with it!