What's the best way to 'level up' as a writer, when you've already hit a few early milestones for success?This is a really interesting question, and one that will resonate with many blog readers.
As someone who is agented with books under contract but still early career, I’m curious about the best ways to improve. I’m following the basics, meaning writing, reading critically, and listening carefully to both my agent and editor(s) feedback. Plus I’ve developed online and real-life writer friends who are always up craft discussions.
I’ve found writing conferences—at least the ones I’ve been to—have a diminishing rate of returns because there tends to be a strong focus on querying and (generally excellent) content for beginning writers. Don’t get me wrong: I still learn something, and they’re useful, plus it’s fun to catch up with fellow writers and meet the wide-eyed fresh chum having their minds blown by their first conference. The craft sorts of talks I’d love to hear are hard to teach at a traditional conference when talks are maybe an hour with Q&A. Plus, when the crowd trends toward beginners, it makes sense to offer business and craft content that helps them.
I’d appreciate suggestions on how to continue to grow as a writer if you or any of the reiders have suggestions, including recommendations for ‘continuing ed’ type classes or events.
What I know for sure is only what worked for me.
Will it work for you?
But like a lot of things, trial and error is probably the best way forward.
That is, try some of the ideas you'll see here, and see if they work. If they don't, try some other ideas.
I have a unique crit group: regular blog readers. While all y'all are kind enough to not criticize my writing, what you do is ask questions about what wasn't clear. Or comment in a way that makes me realize I wasn't clear (most recent example can be seen on Question 3 here)
Being forced to write clearly, and think about how a reader will understand something, has been enormously helpful.
Writing a blog post every day (well, the last six weeks not so much) is also VERY helpful.
Extrapolating from my specific experience to a more general answer: write every day for an audience. How you find that audience is tricky for people who don't work in jobs like mine with a built in sea of chums.
The other thing that has been enormously useful is critiquing. A lot. Writing cogently about why something doesn't work is a GREAT learning tool.
There are lots of places to find folks looking for crit help.
But if you don't want to involve real people, assess essays or short stories on your own.
Force yourself to write 100 words about every story in an MWA anthology.
That's just me.
I hope there will be a lot more ideas in the comment column today.