We can imagine that it goes without saying that in order to be a great writer you need to be a great reader. Yet there are countless authors who have offered this advice and countless writers who have ignored it. Whatever genre you're in, read and read and read and read some more - and not just in your own field. Read poetry, non-fiction, prose, all of it. Read until you're sick of reading, and then, write.
Try not to limit yourself to writing only when you're at your computer. Carry a notebook with you at all times and jot-down anything and everything that comes to mind. Does all that scribbling seems too cumbersome and time consuming for you? Keep a pocket recorder with you and speak your brainstorms into it regularly. You never know when brilliance is going to strike after all.
Read everything you write out loud. This is perhaps one of the best pieces of information that I've ever received. This tip works for fiction and non-fiction writers alike. You may get lost in your own prose from time to time and this is one of the best ways to bring back your focus. The written word and the spoken word have a very different sound. When you read something in your head, you'll be adding all kinds of nuances to it that may not be there. Don't believe me? Try it yourself. The next time you think you've written a tasty little bit of dialogue, or have successfully described a scene or event, read it out loud and see if it sounds believable for the characters and plotline you are trying to create. This technique works fast, it works for poetry, dialogue, prose, and non-fiction equally, and better still, it works consistently every time.
Lastly, by all means have an outline of some kind – something to follow, or as a tool to guide you back when you've strayed from your path, but don't make a beeline for the ending. Allow your story to unfold naturally, let your characters drive, and reach your destination with the kind of grace that proves you knew exactly where you were going and how you were going to get there all along.
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