As I said in the 9/6 post Write On, if you want to be a writer, especially if you want to be a good writer, the most important thing you need to do is write. Scribble on paper. Pound that keyboard. Write, write, write, until you can’t write no more – then write some more on top of that.
This is because, like any extreme sport, the more you practice writing, the better you’ll get and the easier it will get for you to write whenever you want to or are called upon to do so.
So, it’s important to sit down and write, and to make the commitment to write regularly, whether regularly means four hours a day, or fifteen minutes three times a week.
What’s the second most important thing you need to do to be a writer, especially a good writer?
You need to read …
Read things you like. Read things you’re not familiar with. Read classics and comic books and cereal boxes. Read poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction, copywriting and song lyrics.
When you read, especially when you read from the position of a writer, you learn a lot about words and the things they can do, separately and together. You learn about style, and tone, and flow. You learn what works and what doesn’t.
You can learn a lot from good writing. You can learn a lot from bad writing, too…
Every good writer has his or her own personal “voice”, and part of writing is finding your own way of writing that reaches your readers while still expressing your own personal style and persona. When you read the works of others, it can help you find your own voice. When you’re stuck, reading other authors with a voice similar to yours can help you re-establish contact with your own style (without ripping off the styles of others.)
So, if you want to write, you need to write; but you also need to read, as fuel to the creative fire within you…