Becoming A Better Writer

I rather fancy myself as a writer. I tell people unhesitatingly that writing is the one thing I do well. In fact, I write for my living.

So, it was a real shock to discover that recently, my writing has begun to bore me.

When I read what I have written in the last few months, be it blog posts here or writing done at work, I get a feeling of monotony. All my works seem to share a dull sort of sameness. I can almost predict how each piece will begin, flow, and conclude.

This scares me. This prospect of becoming bad at something I was good at. I simply cannot afford to lose this one thing that I am sure of about myself.

So, I am making some fundamental changes in my habits, which, I believe, will make a significant difference to the quality of my writing. Or at least, to how I feel about it.

1. Reading Right

These days, all I’ve been reading are light-hearted novels that don’t offer much by way of cerebral food. My excuse to myself each time I picked up such a book from the library has been that I am mentally exhausted and just want an easy read.

Last week, on the way back from the library, SR asked me, “Do any of the books you read influence your writing?”

And for the life of me, I couldn’t even remember the names or plots of the last 15 odd books I had read!

Going ahead, I have decided that at least one of the books I pick up each week will be by an author or of a genre that I have not tried before. Some of the books/authors that I want to read are:

  1. The Elephant Vanishes – Haruki Murakami
  2. Atonement & The Comfort of Strangers – Ian McEwan
  3. A House for Mr. Biswas – VS Naipaul
  4. The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri
  5. Till Death Do Us Part – Mahaswetha Devi
  6. No Full Stops In India – Mark Tully
  7. Take A Girl Like You – Kingsley Amis
  8. An Accidental Man – Iris Murdoch
  9. Quartet in Autumn – Barbara Pym

2. Involved Reading

From being a detail-oriented editor who was very engaged with every book I read, I have now become a very lazy reader. I am no longer as involved with the characters in the books I read, nor do I spend time thinking about what I have read or observed.

Even the worst of books teach you something-what not to do, if nothing else. By not learning from the scores of books I have read in the past months, I have let a lot of learning slip through my fingers.

Going ahead, this is one thing I am certainly going to change. I will review every book I read on Goodreads, so that my insights are recorded, and may perhaps even help someone else make a decision about a book.

3. Writing More

Often during the day, on my way to work, or while watching TV, or playing with B & B, ideas strike me. I tell myself, “Now, there’s a good topic to blog about!” and then promptly forget about it.

When I see bloggers I follow take up challenges of writing every day, I always think that you should not force yourself to write. That the urge to write and the words must flow on their own.

I now realize that by not compelling myself to write, I have ended up not writing at all. Soon, months and years will pass, and I will regret these wasted days then.

I still don’t believe in setting myself a target number of posts to write. But I have made up my mind that every time I have a thought or a good idea for a blog post, I will not let it slip. I will write about it, even if it’s just a paragraph.

4 thoughts on “Becoming A Better Writer

  1. Each write of yours has been a source of inspiration, and a learning tool for greenhorns like me. Glad to know, this blog, henceforth, will be populated more often – an opportunity to devour more of those fluidic thoughts.

  2. We all need to take care of our strengths and use it to our betterment. Writing for you is one such strength. I do not see the monotony that you may feel but I agree to your advise above – read better, write regularly. Write to not publish but for your self. Good luck!

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