January 20, 2011

Improve your writing - Kimberley Payne

On The Word Guild listserv, Denise Rumble asked, “How are you, as an individual, improving your writing? What are you doing to accomplish this? What other ways can we use to improve our writing?

Earl Silver believes in taking courses. He shares, “I am taking a course taught by professor Brooks Landon entitled Building Great Sentences. I plan to follow that with a study of Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition.”

Lisa Wilson improves her writing by reading books on writing. She says, “I'm reading Donald Maas' new book ‘The Fire in Fiction’. I'm highlighting as I go. When I'm done, I'll begin reading some of the works he quotes. I did this with his other book "Writing the Breakout Novel" and found some great books that I might not ordinarily have read and learned a bunch.”

Donna Fawcett agrees with Lisa. “I try to find 'how to' books that continue to give me new ideas on writing. I also try to read as many new authors as possible as this gives me an idea of trends.”

Tammy Wiens takes a different approach and asks her readers. She shares, “I have found that I've gotten so caught up in trying to please the industry at times that I've forgotten my audience. In the end, they are the ones who buy my books and let me know if they are good or not--not editors or publishers. So I've expanded my test readings to include more diversity in my readers.”

Sara Davison uses a combination of techniques. “I've done a lot of different things to try and improve my writing - attended Write!Canada and other conferences, classes, workshops etc., read books in my genre and on the craft of writing, had my work professionally edited - but the absolute best thing I have done is join a writers' group. I belong to two different groups, both of which meet once a month. We read our work to each other and give and receive feedback. Not only has this (hopefully) strengthened and improved my writing skills, it has also increased my confidence and comfort level with public speaking.”

Eric Wright also believes in the value of critique groups. He says, “I try to participate in 2 online critique groups, including The Word Guild's, and 2 local face-to-face critique groups. I find that keeps me on my toes through repeated revision. Also I keep referring back to the books that have helped me most; Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and Making Shapely Fiction, etc.”

D.S. Martin is also a big believer in editing. He shares, "With poetry the answer lies, first, in reading lots and lots of the very best contemporary poetry. The second step is to be a fanatic reviser --- trimming, fine-tuning, and improving poems. Usually a short poem takes longer to write than several pages of prose ever would. For fiction it's not quite so intense, but the same principles apply.”

How do you improve your writing?


  1. I guess there are so many ways to improve. I reminds me of one's spiritual life. There is no ONE way to foster growth, just as long as you are always moving forward ...

  2. Hi Tracy,

    I agree. It's wonderful to see that there are so many ways that we can improve our writing. Personally I like the tip to read, read, read.


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.