In the Oxford English Dictionary, evolution is defined as “the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.” Simply put, it means change. Each change is about learning new things and growing, it is mainly about evolving into something better than what we are today. At each stage of evolution, we are closing one chapter and opening another one. Evolution brings new beginnings and growth.
In this respect, life and writing are much the same. Every day, as writers and as people, we choose to grow and evolve or we choose to remain the same. Writing weaknesses are normal. We all have them. But it’s okay, because each of us is on the same journey, and there is no finish line–no point we reach where we’re “good enough.” Regardless of how adept we become at writing, there will always be room to grow. So, why can we not simply pretend to ignore these flaws and move on? Perhaps, because, in writing, more than anything else, covering up flaws can keep us from success.
This is why, we constantly need to re-assess our writing skills and reinvent our voice, to be able to give a new lease of life to our work. As writers, many of us feel we are still a work in progress, and have a long way to go, and yet, how often have we had that feeling of being stuck in a rut, unable to break free of our limitations? But, despair not, for there are ways to get out of this. We need to believe we are ready to make some key changes to the way we do things, reassess our work and allow our abilities to go beyond our limitations.
So, how do writers evolve?
As writers and bloggers, most often we are not so terrified of change itself, as much as the consequences that change brings. How do we allow ourselves to evolve and explore new writing styles or genres when we’re afraid of the consequences of change? Today, we start by looking at four essential (read fool-proof!) ways of evolving, and what better way to begin, than by reminding ourselves to move away from our comfort zones and face the consequences of the changes. Challenging, alright, but not impossible. The possibilities at the other end of that ‘shift’ is tremendous, and totally worth it.
1. Opening up to learning
This is the hardest and most important ‘mind shift’ that every writer needs to go through, on the path to evolution. We all come into the journey believing our writing is good, special, something that will become great with some polish. The truth is that we all need a lot more than a spit shine. Once we own up to that, we can begin to learn from others. Reconnecting with and reaffirming our personal mission as a writer can help us find the direction that will allow us to embrace change.
2. Getting feedback from others
I find constructive feedback an essential tool for improving my writing. It can be scary to ask writers for honest feedback. You want them to love it and say it’s great, but what you really need is for them to point out the problems. If I don’t spend a long time on a piece, I often overlook small typos or grammatical issues. Having someone read over my writing can highlight these issues and help me to clean up my work. Accepting constructive criticism is a skill I have learnt over the years. I find that by taking emotion out of it, I am able to see that the feedback isn’t personal.
3. Reading widely and experimenting freely
Reading! Well, this is a no-brainer. Finding inspiration through our favourite fiction authors, online articles, e-zines and in ‘how to’ books work great for a start. One interesting way to do this is by pairing up with another writer to read the same book and then discuss it. As we explore new styles or genres, we learn things we never knew and also what might work for us. This is most useful when we are looking to experiment with a variety range of formats and structures as well new content types. New formats may be exciting and scary, but most certainly, worth doing if we want to stretch our writing muscles. Worth a try if you haven’t already done before.
One of the best things about writers is this: they are everywhere! Connecting with other people who love to write certainly helps to build a support system that will help us at every turn. The easiest way to go about it is by searching for writing forums, blogs, facebook groups and twitter hashtags (#writing #writersgroups), where we’ll find writers looking to reach out to others for mutual support and knowledge sharing. If you’re a member of Write Tribe, you already know it’s a great place for novice and seasoned bloggers/writers alike, looking to network, exchange ideas, get help and support at no extra cost. Writing events need not be expensive–one can always look at getting involved in local writing groups and see what events are available for members.
The beautiful thing about writing is that so much of what we need is already available and is free. There are plenty of freebies available that include writing blogs, forums and websites which are troves of useful help and information. Besides, you may also find free writing opportunities ranging from free online conferences to writing/critiquing workshops where you may wish to apply your newly gained knowledge.
Just as there is no single formula for good writing, there isn’t any one absolute way to be a great writer. To each his own. What works best for one, might not work for another. It takes time for a writer to develop his/her voice. Not just budding writers, at times, even seasoned writers face stagnation, when growth is slow and ideas are sparse and one has nothing new or exciting to say. That is the time to take stock of the situation, roll up our sleeves and bring in the much-needed changes to infuse vigour and life back into our writing.
Turning writing weaknesses into strengths is not an overnight job. We must be patient and kind to ourselves even as we keep writing on. The idea is that each step of the way, we must apply our new-found knowledge to the page. We learn most by doing, so we must always make time to write – One step at a time, but by bit, we will elevate our writing and feel proud at how far we’ve come.
Tell me, what steps have you taken to evolve as a writer? What websites, groups or information sources do you recommend to writers? Where have you relaxed your standards or improved your skills? Are you happy with your progress?
Looking forward to reading your response in the comment section below.
Day 4 of the Write Tribe Festival of Words #5 and we hope you are having fun writing, reading, commenting and sharing. Remember all you have to do is:
- Read and comment on the Write Tribe post of the day.
- Add your link.
- Visit as many links as you can (all would be nice) and make meaningful comments on the posts.
- Share the posts of other participants on social media.