Writing is the closest you can come to penning your own immortality. In this article, we collect research backed recommendations for becoming a better writer. If you are looking for tips to improve your writing style, we have collected those in a separate article on guidelines for writing better.
Practice makes perfect is a cliche, but it is true. Practicing regularly leads to improvements in writing non-linearly. For example, Ronald T. Kellog in his paper on Training writing skills in the Journal of Writing Research provides an example of the most prolific writers of all time — Isaac Asimov. Isaac Asimov wrote far fewer books in his early years. As he gained experience and skill, his writing prowess exploded.
Binge marathon writing sessions are not productive and lead to anxiety and writer's block. Instead, writers should learn to compose only a few hours every day, but at a consistent and regular schedule. Moreover, spaced practice also helps etch the concepts for long-term learning.
3. Be concise
Squeeze your sentences to the point that only the gist remains. And then when you think you have taken away enough, take away some more. For examples of concise writing style, read some works by Ernest Hemingway.
Many style-guides, including the Elements of Style, recommend writing in the active voice. Active voice is concise and clearer. There is a raging debate in the scientific community about maintaining objectivity of research articles by writing in the passive voice, but major journals such as Nature and Science encourage their authors to write in the active voice. When you have to use the passive voice, clearly identify the actor.
Research has shown that depression decreases motivation and cognitive flexibility, thereby leading to poor creativity. Paradoxically, creative people usually have a history of depression, but they were most creative between periods of depression. Because, when depression is treated, the frontal lobe returns to its normal functioning and creativity improves.
Successful writers set daily word count goals that range anywhere from 1000 words per day to upto 10,000 words per day. Every genre has recommended word count guidelines ranging for 50,000 words for books targeted towards young adults to 100,000+ for epics. Find out what works for your genre and set out to accomplish that goal in a reasonable time-frame. As a general guideline, the highly successful novelist Stephen King, in his memoir On writing, suggests that the first draft of a book should not take more than 3 months. So, define your timeline, and calculate daily throughput based on the expected book length.
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