Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tips For Learning the Craft of Writing

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

“How do you ever learn it all? There’s so much and it changes so fast.” The conferee leaned forward in his chair and scratched his chin. He had a great question. My answer was simple. “You don’t. You continue to study and learn.” 

It’s easy for a published author to tell you how they write, but the fact remains, despite how they may deviate from the norm, the basics of the craft do not change. As you progress through the ranks of the industry, you’ll find writing is also very subjective. What one editor loves, another hates. This in and of itself, makes learning the craft of writing a little frustrating.

Regardless of the variants, any writer worth their salt will spend a good amount of time revisiting their work, looking for those glaring things that eat away at it. There are always things to learn, ways to edit, tidbits and methods that will make your work better. Search them out and practice.

Given that, it’s important to remember where you are writing wise. Are you a beginner? Published in articles or in books? The tools available to us to learn the craft are tremendous but as the writer, you must honestly assess the level where you are currently writing. Don’t rush. Instead, start at the beginning and learn. Master one skill at a time. Practice discernment as you attend conference classes and purchase teaching materials. Remember you can’t drive a car without first starting the engine, so don’t skip steps in your learning process. Look at your learning level as a place to layer degree upon degree. With each process, step, or method you learn, you are building your skill level.

Read Books: There are great books available to help new writers locate and learn how to correct those common mistakes that plague their work. Books like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. If longevity means anything, this little book has been around for years. Browne and King have revised it over time to keep it current but within the pages of this book, new writers will find information that, if utilized, will help make your work very polished.

The amazing James Scott Bell offers several editing tools via his writing books as well. Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish will offer the writer a clear guide to a smooth and successful plot. His book Revision & Self-Editing also deepen the writer’s knowledge of seeing, correcting, and even rewriting sentences and paragraphs to make them as readable and smooth as possible.

As your writing level progresses, Steven James’ book Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules, is filled with unique ways to take your writing to a new level. (FYI – writers should have a solid understanding of writing the craft in order to effectively utilize these methods). Still, James offers daring and solid methods to help writers produce sound work.

Attend conferences: The ability to learn at the feet of those who have blazed the trail is an opportunity no writer should pass up. Again, assess your writing level and attend classes that meet you where you are in your writing at that moment. Always purchase the cd’s or MP3s of the conference and take home months’ worth of continued learning.

Get involved in a critique group: Local groups should have levels of writers so that the learning continues to set a higher bar for your writing. Learn to critique and be critiqued. If there is no local group, visit Word Weavers. They have area groups and on-line groups you can join and learn.

The greatest tool you can exercise is practice: Spend time studying. Read the genre you love – then practice. Write, write, write. We learn best when we practice the skill. Skaters aren’t born to leap and spin into the air. They practice, strengthen their muscles, and make attempt after attempt until suddenly, they make the jump. It’s the same with a writer. Practice. 

Do we ever learn it all? Nope. But we do continue to strive to daily improve. Grasp the tools you need. Get plugged in. Learn. Before you know it, you will see a marked improvement in your skills and in your work. No. It’s never enough. We just keep learning.

Tips for Learning the Craft of #Writing - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Do we ever learn all there is to know about #writing? thoughts from @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of ChristianDevotions.us and the executive editor of ChristianDevotions.us and InspireaFire.com. Cindy is the managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is an award-winning and best-selling author and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.  @cindydevoted


  1. Well said Ms. Cindy. We never stop learning. I might add we should also never be afraid of submitting your work for review or contest entries. If you're afraid to fail, don't start. If you do start, be daring. God's blessings ma'am.

    1. Absolutely. You build confidence and experience when you submit.

  2. Having a critique group ,even if you all write different genres, is essential for growth.

  3. Great wisdom in your words. I enjoy attending writers conferences and my critique groups are amazing. I learn so much from everyone.

    1. Thank you. And yes you should enjoy your critique group.