There’s a chance this may be the final issue of The Voice Magazine?the final in a run That’s lasted more than two decades and that has given readers a wonderful glimpse into the lives and interests of their fellow students. A run, too, That’s helped launch the careers of several former Voice writers, and has allowed countless other writers to hone their writing skills, tackle different genres and topics, and get the confidence they need to move forward and onward with their writing.
During my time as managing editor of the Voice and now here in this column, I’ve offered advice to both new and experienced writers on improving tone, style, grammar, and punctuation?and on finding and strengthening their own unique voice. I’ll continue doing this through my editorial business, and I hope the Voice will be preserved and I’ll be able to continue to do it here.
But if this is the last time we break out the Toolbox?at least in this medium?It’s time to bring in the one tool that surpasses all others.
What bit of advice is more important than anything else an English professor, editor, or fellow writer will tell you?
It really is that simple.
Write every day. Write different things. Write responses, descriptions, snippets of dialogue you hear. Write impressions?whether external or internal. Write down your thoughts. Write down your fears. When inspiration hits, grab your pen or your laptop or your phone’s notes app and get it written down.
But don’t limit yourself to the good times. Part of what will most help you improve as a writer is learning to stretch your muscles and move outside your comfort zone. In fact, It’s when inspiration is the furthest thing in the world that writing is most important.
When You’re feeling uninspired, write your way through it. There is another side, and you can bridge the gap.
When You’re trying something new and you don’t think You’re very good at it, write your way through it. Next time it won’t be so new. By the tenth time, you might even feel comfortable.
When you know what you’ve written is terrible, clunky, and boring, write your way through it. Revise it later, or not. Consider it a workout, not a competition.
When you get disappointing feedback on your writing, write your way through that too, even though you want to give up. Making mistakes and learning from them is part of the writing process.
Write, and learn. Seek feedback. Study books, writing, style. But remember: It’s only through writing, and evaluating that writing, that you’ll move toward becoming the writer you truly can be.
Write early. Write often.
If you’d like to get in touch with me in the future, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website, www.pagetwoediting.com. I’m also on Twitter @turntopage2.
Christina M. Frey is a book editor, literary coach, and lover of great writing. For more tips and techniques for your toolbox, follow her on Twitter (@turntopage2) or visit her blog.