3 ways to improve your writing

I’ve taken a break from writing recently.  I felt I wasn’t really getting anywhere and needed to hone my skills by doing something different, rather than ploughing on relentless.

Time will tell whether this detour has helped my writing, but in the meantime I’m enjoying the experience.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

1. Judging Contests

As a member of the Romance Writers of Australia (even though I’m in the UK – they do an international membership option), I applied to be a volunteer judge.  Several times a year the RWA runs contests and needs judges – who don’t have to be published authors – to grade the entries.

I’ve recently completed a batch of judging and, although it was very time-                                 consuming, it was also extremely interesting looking at how other people approach               the task of entering a writing competition.

I also inevitably end up comparing my work against that I was reading and could see             my own mistakes in the work of others, even though I hadn’t realised before then                 they had been mistakes!

So altogether, a really useful exercise for improving my writing, I thought.

RWA Home

2. The Choc Lit panel

Publisher of romances, Choc Lit, invite avid readers to join their panel.  This involves           reading and reviewing as yet unpublished manuscripts.  The idea is that they will                   publish that are most popular with their panel.

In order to be a judge you need to read at least one manuscript per month.  This is a               big deal when you’re busy with work and family but if you’re a keen reader it’s a great           way of getting books for free (you can read on your Kindle or on pdf, but not hard copy           unless you’re prepared to print out hundreds of pages).  And if you’re an aspiring                   author it’s a great way of seeing how other people approach their writing.


3. A writing buddy

Also through the RWA, I found a critique partner.  You’re matched to your critique                 partner based on your strengths and your weaknesses.

Whereas my strengths tend to be grammar and hopefully flow of language, I struggle            with writing emotion and –  as it turns out, am guilty of often putting things in the                passive tense!

She, on the other hand, is great at writing emotion –  So together in theory we should            be an unstoppable team.

So far, it’s working really well (well, I think so anyway!), and her comments are                       honest, but sensitively phrased and really, really helpful.  I hope she feels the same               way about me!

Word of warning though – I’d suggest only going in for a writing buddy if you’re                      prepared to take criticism.  It can be hard hearing that all your hard work doesn’t                    make the other person jump for joy all the time, but if your skin’s thick enough, it                  should bring out the best in your writing in the long term.

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