It’s a struggle. Anything worthwhile is going to be a struggle and if you enjoy writing beyond simply recreation, improving your writing is an important part of the process. Or maybe it is just a hobby. Maybe you want to improve only for yourself and that is fine too. Whatever your reasons, here are some ways you can improve your own writing.
Anything will do, but the more “literary” it is, the more literary your writing will become. When you’re reading, whether you realize it or not, you’re getting a feeling for writing, what sounds good, what grammar works, etc. Like with anything, if you study the masters some of their mastery will inspire you and (hopefully) rub off on you as well.
If you’re a reader I likely fly have to remind you to use your library, but I will anyway just in case: Use your library. It has a huge variety of different genres at your disposal for free. No need to spend a lot of money buying your books. If you’re someone who prefers an e-reader, first of all, shame on you, send of all, many libraries are able to lend you digital copies of many books. Basically, if you aren’t surrounded by books, you have no excuse.
For the past 8 or 9 years I’ve been using a Goodreads account (it’s free) to keep track of and rate books I’ve read, and also keep track of and find books I want to read. I’ve found it very helpful (they have an app too) and it’s a little satisfying to see the amount of books I’ve read put into a number.
You don’t become better at baseball without playing baseball, right?
The Slump. The Brick Wall. Every writer goes through it, some more than others. We can’t all lead our lives like Hemingway (and hopefully most of don’t want to). So here are some ways to help you get out of your slump.
Go somewhere. Do something. Don’t stick around doing the same old things. Staring at the same things you see every day isn’t going to give you inspiration. Seeing new places, hearing other people’s conversation, even seeing something at the grocery store can help. Inspiration can come from even the most mundane. Staring at a blank page of paper or a Word document is not going to give you anything brilliant. At the very least you’ll get a break to refresh yourself from staring at your own failure. Feeling miserable about not being able to write will only make you more miserable and unable to write. It’s a vicious cycle only if you let it be one.
Sometimes writing anything at all to get your mind moving can help you get out of your slump. I’ve often found myself with a terrible idea that I can’t get out of my head. Writing it out, no matter how bad it is, can sometimes let you move on. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to salvage something out of it later. Even writing about how you can’t write can help you get into the writing mood. It doesn’t matter what you write, or even if you’re writing junk, all that matters is that you keep writing. The more time that passes by without writing, the harder it becomes to get back into it.
Even if you don’t ordinarily write fantasy, mythical creatures can be a hard thing to resist. If you’re like me, writing a story without an ancient mythical creature wreaking havoc can often be a losing battle and I, of all people, am not going to dissuade you from such inclinations. However, if you are writing the piece seriously with intentions for publication (or for the viewing of picky, literary friends) you need to take some things into account and prepare yourself for the inevitable criticisms that will come with such a story.
We all know the ones I’m talking about: vampires, werewolves, witches…They’re all very intriguing. The lore leading into the distant past, the gruesome, ominous myths and the different takes on such strange beings can make a person obsessed, understandably so. However, we can all name at least one story that has been cliché, way too overused or downright stupid. Some might say that using such popular supernatural beings is just a bad idea and anything that you write about them has been done before. I disagree. True whatever you write probably won’t be fresh, but that’s true of everything. It’s been said before and I will say it again: there are no new ideas. Accept it. It’s the truth.
The goal in any piece of writing is not to come up with new ideas (although that doesn’t mean you can plagiarise) but to bring new spins, new combinations, and new emotions to ideas that are already out there. The same is true for these popular creatures, your piece may seem like white noise among other vampire or zombie novels, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t write it. What it does mean is that you are going to need to work harder to make something that is unique and powerful, something that people can read without feeling as if they have read it before.
There are two ways you can approach writing about a popular mythical creature, both have drawbacks and benefits.