Talent is a skill that is cultivated through years of hard work, not a trait that a person is born with. Although some people have natural potential, they will not achieve success and recognition if they do not set aside time to learn and practice.

If you plan on self-publishing your poetry book one day or find a publisher for your debut novel, here are some tips that will help you become a better writer.

Read a Lot

You often hear that the best way to become a better writer is to read more books. Every name in literature, from the poet William Faulkner to the novelist Stephen King, believes that becoming a prolific reader is the first step to becoming a good writer.

The reason why this strategy works is because reading makes you wise. The books you read all have an important lesson to impart. They all contain ideas and information that enriches your mind. It exposes you to different perspectives that you otherwise may not encounter in your daily life. Through reading, you can learn about different writing styles and genres that, hopefully, will help you find your own distinct voice.

As early as now, start reading. You do not have to read every title in the English literary canon exclusively. Read whatever you want and whatever you enjoy.

Try to dedicate at least an hour of your every day to reading. If you have trouble concentrating, turn off your television and smartphone while you read so you are not distracted.

Expand Your Vocabulary

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While reading, you will encounter new words. Do not move past them. Grab a dictionary, know what they mean, and learn how to use them in a sentence.

You should also seek out new words by browsing websites and apps. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, for example, has a “Word for the Day” on all its digital platforms. Subscribing will introduce you to words that you have not read or heard before.

Having a huge arsenal of words will let you express your ideas with clarity and precision. To become a true “wordsmith,” you need to increase the number of words that you can use to craft your masterpiece.

Join Writing Classes and Workshops

As they say, practice makes perfect. Although practicing on your own will improve your skills, you will gain numerous benefits from formal training.

Enroll in a writing course in a local college or pursue a graduate degree at a prominent university. If going back to school is not something you want to do right now, joining a writing workshop will also make you a better writer.

You need feedback and criticism from fellow writers to find faults in your work or recommend edits that will turn your work into a masterpiece. You also will gain tips that you can use to grow as a writer.

Improve Your Research Skills, Too

Good writers are obsessive researchers. If you want to write about a topic, especially one that exists in the real world, you would need to spend so much of your time on collecting relevant data and information. One way to improve your research skills is to check the bibliographies of books you like and read the titles that they cited.

Becoming a good writer would take a lot of time. Even when you think you have made strides, there will always be room for improvement. But there is no shortcut to becoming the next Kazuo Ishiguro or Olga Tokarczuk. The only option you have is to be patient and work hard.

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