1: Know what you write.
This is the single greatest factor to writing well. Researching a subject until you are intimately familiar with it will not only show off your knowledge in your writing, but will also give you an educated stand point on what you are writing. Many people base their writing strictly on their opinions and / or their own life experience. While there is nothing extremely wrong with that, if your opinion is not educated then people will not take you seriously. Know what you write.
2: Know why you write.
If you don't know why you write, you should probably take some time and consider your reasoning behind writing. I have heard many people say that they write for release, and they write to vent. If you fit into that category, ask yourself then why are you writing and displaying your poems online for an audience to see, and ask yourself if it might be better to store your writings in a locked diary instead. You need to know why you write, so you can convey to your audience what it is you intend to convey.
3: Ask yourself why an audience would want to read your writing(s).
This is important. Often, before posting anything I ask myself why someone would want to read what it is I am posting. Often this makes me refrain from posting, but I think it's for the better of literature in general sometimes. If you read something of your own from an unbiased perspective, think about how it reads to others. Many think their poetry is the best in the world and that they are the next Maya Angelou or Charles Bukowski, but you have to really be able to read your own poetry with an honest perspective, and ask yourself why others would want to read it.
4: Read a lot.
Read everything you can get your hands on. Nothing improves your language skills and writing like reading. Especially, read the classics. Certain books haven't lasted 500 plus years because they are just long and boring books that old people like falling asleep to. Everything from Dante to Chaucer to Shakespeare are perfect examples of classics that aren't extremely difficult to read, and will teach you many, many different techniques for word play, word usage, sentence, form, structure, rhyme, etc.
5: Learn intimately the different popular styles and forms of writing.
It is fundamentally important to know the different writing styles that have gained popularity over the last thousand years of our literary knowledge. Everything from sonnets, haikus, and simple couplets are a must to learn to improve your knowledge of form and style. Writing argumentative term papers, research papers, and book reports are all helpful in learning proper form for those types of writing.
6: Buy the MLA handbook.
This is the book that every single English teacher owns, and it contains the answer to every single grammar question you've ever had, and shows you the proper and current standardized ways to write argumentative papers, term papers, etc.
7: Buy a thesaurus and a dictionary and an unabridged dictionary.
These sources are a must have for all inspiring writers. Owning them has more value then using the online versions because they are far more comprehensive than the online versions. The unabridged dictionary is also a must have, because it includes colloquial vernacular phrases and words with their corresponding definitions. Phrases like: "dick face" are in the unabridged dictionary with definition and sometimes history of the phrase / word. Microsoft makes a really nice one and probably the most comprehensive one at your local borders or Barnes and noble.
This one could be in the #1 spot. Plain and simple, every writer does one thing essentially: Write. Write everyday. Write every chance you have. Bring a tape recorder with you so you can write your thoughts later. Just write.
9: Study the subject you like to write about.
To me, comedy is a good element in writing to study because it is usually fast paced and entertaining. Pick an element like comedy that you like about writing, and study and read what you can about the history of that element, literature and art evolvement of those elements. If anything, this will improve your knowledge of the subject you are currently interested in writing about. For instance, for people who enjoy writing about suicide, read Sylvia Plath. Then, read her husband's poetry. (Ted Hughes). From there, you can read the influences of Ted Hughes - writers like Kipling, Yeats, Hopkins, Virgil and T.S. Eliot. What this will do is give you a broader perspective on the one particular subject you have chosen to write about. Though the aforementioned poets were not exactly suicidal poets, they were the influence of the darker style of poetry of Sylvia and Ted. You can start seeing patterns in their styles, and after reading them you can start to see the progression of a particular subject or story element.
10: Blow the critics off as if they were a grain of salt.
In the literary world, there is nothing but critics. Learn to take their criticism with a grain of salt. Take what you can out of it, and leave the rest for the elves.
Submission date : 2005-04-13
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