For as long as I could remember, I never had any artistic leanings. I listened to a lot of music, but was never interested in learning how to make songs; I read a lot of comics, but I never dared to draw one.
If I had to give a reason for not trying, apart from my laziness and supposed lack of time, it would be the high barrier of entry. To even qualify as a beginner in these art forms, you have to be diligent and hardworking from the get-go, and even then you won’t see the results quickly.
This doesn’t seem to stop people, as everyone is trying their hand at all these art forms during the quarantine. All art forms except writing. Which is weird, because writing has the lowest barrier of entry, it’s even lower than my self-esteem.
A basic understanding of the language and grammar is more than enough to start your writing journey. You won’t be good at it, but it took you minimal effort to be at the starting line.
Since you can read this I’ll assume that you are at the starting line and give you some tips to actually improve your writing.
Analyze your heroes
All of us have someone we look up to, the writers have their heroes and the musicians have their idols. Most of the time we just have a basic idea of what makes them good without properly understanding it or knowing how to replicate it.
So analyze, breakdown, and copy your heroes till you know which of their qualities made you like them, then try your best to replicate those qualities. Don’t stress on having your own approach, you will gradually find it.
In my experience, ideas are like distant hazy dreams, they keep on changing at their inception but you start to have a good grasp on what it actually is once you work on it for a while.
Cut down the roots
One of my heroes is Charles Bukowski, he was abused by his drunk father and ostracized by his peers for being ugly and different. So he found his solace in writing.
When you read his works, like Post Office or The crunch, you can feel his immense Nihilism and aimlessness in life but they never reek of his past, never reek of his condition, they feel pure beyond belief, not because of who he is as a person but because it doesn’t matter who he is as a person.
Consume bad writing
If there is one thing that turns all my creative gears in the right direction, it is reading poorly written stuff. Whether it’s a script, a youtube video, or a book, reading something bad will immediately help you understand your mistakes and put them into perspective.
A bad rendition of a concept has always helped me understand the essence of what made it good in the first place. So for the sake of improving your writing, go read some Chetan Bhagat.
“The first draft of anything is shit“ – Ernest Hemingway
When you finish putting your thoughts onto a paper, you won’t find any mistakes because you will keep reading it in your head voice and you won’t notice how broken and incoherent it is. As a writer, it might make perfect sense to you but the reader will be completely lost on what you’re trying to convey.
To avoid this, edit the draft after taking some downtime. The more time you spend away from your work, the more you will start to lose the initial high of the idea. This will help you cut down on all the noise and only deliver something of actual value while also making the flow much smoother.
Roll the dice
The first few pieces you write are more of the repressed ideas you had in your life that you never actually expressed. Once you start running out of these repressed ideas, you will need to come up with new ones, but in the process, you will find a genre or writing style that you are inherently good at, one where writing something doesn’t take any effort and comes to you naturally.
You need to be careful because you might drive yourself into stagnation overdoing this. Only when you get out of your comfort zone and start writing in different genres and styles will you improve.
I know how daunting it is to pour your feelings into something only for it to come across as pretentious or incompetent but if you stick through all those dull drafts, there will come a point where you can finally make something colorful. So keep writing and have fun.