What's the best way to stretch and polish writing skills? Ask a dozen writers this question and you might get a dozen answers that include:
- Continued education
- Joining a writing group
- Reading writing books/blogs
- Feedback from critique partners
These helpful tools provide opportunities to exercise and strengthen writing muscles, meet other writers, and gain valuable insight.
Each item on this list can lead me in a myriad of directions, rabbit trails even, so I aim for "big picture" balance and assess what's applicable not only for long term growth but for current projects.
For example, when working on an article or book draft, sometimes I use an exercise I require of my teen students.
It goes like this:
Read the sentences in the first paragraph of your current project.
List these sentences on paper, one per line.
Examine and consider:
Do they relate to each other?
Do they tie into the theme?
This can reveal gaps, typos, and awkward spots, or affirm that all is well. It provides a different perspective and a breakdown that makes sure the content is focused on the main theme. I do this with all or various portions of a project, especially when struggling with the overall picture.
Speaking of writing exercises - not sure if they are worth the time? E. J. Runyon offers insight in Take Your Writing Further: How to Get the Most Out of Writing Exercises. It's a quick and interesting read that hits the topic from a different angle.
Is there anything you'd add to the list above? What helps stretch and polish your writing?
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