Monday, June 7, 2010

5 Fun Ways to Improve Your Writing

Writers should have more fun. We're so serious all the time, sending queries, reading literary masterpieces, analyzing misplaced modifiers, it's enough to make anyone we live with go crazy (sorry, Husband!)–not to mention ourselves.

My best writing happens when I stop working and start playing. Here are a few ways I've had fun with writing that I recommend.

One. Take singing lessons. People used to ask me, “what are you going to do, sing your jingles?” It was a fair question since I was a double major in both music and advertising at the University of Illinois. But now I know this: learning to sing is great training for being a writer. You learn to listen to words. You sing poetry. And you learn to explore the rhythm of many languages, including English. And yes, sometimes you even end up singing jingles. In German.

Two. Take a copywriting class. Attending a school like the VCU Brandcenter as a copywriter is a great alternative to an MFA. You’ll learn how to create more ideas than you ever thought possible, how to come back with 50 more after they’re ripped apart in your face, and how to say the most in the least amount of words. And at the end of the program, you’ll even be employable.

Three. Live abroad. According to a professor at INSEAD, living abroad makes us more creative. You’ll solve problems in new ways, fill in the blanks of conversations, and see yourself and your home country with a new perspective. If you want to combine living abroad with learning copywriting, check out the Miami Ad School. They have locations all over the world.

Four. Read. Nothing said more fun to me as a child than those crinkly tissue paper book order forms. And bonus! Reading really is one of the best ways to improve your writing. And don’t just stick to one kind of book—read them all—travel guidebooks, literary magazines, trashy magazines, novels, tax forms, memoirs—you never know what’s going to inspire or what you’ll want to make fun of in an essay later.

Five. Practice. Like learning an instrument, like playing a sport, you don’t get better at writing without practicing. But practicing doesn't have to suck. If it does, you're practicing the wrong way. Find what is fun: keep a blog, keep a journal, volunteer to write for the local newspaper, write postcards, it's all writing. And do it every day—even when it doesn’t seem to matter, even when every editor seems to be ignoring you, even when you feel like giving up. Don’t. Just figure out a way to play instead of work.

How do you make writing fun?


  1. In order to write anything, I have to be in the right mood. As a former newspaper reporter, I always had to write on deadline. I can force it out, but it's so much more enjoyable if you just sit back and wait for the motivation to come. Also, I think the best writers don't take themselves too seriously.

  2. I agree with Kristin- the best writers don't take themselves too seriously. I always write an angry rant to get me going if I'm in a funk :)

  3. Kristin,

    I agree a good mood helps. But if I always waited for a good mood I don't know how much I'd get done.

    L. Shanna,

    I'm all for the angry rant! Or any rant.

  4. I love the singing lesson idea!

    For fun, I've been reading a lot of Young Adult books. It's kinda funny when someone asks me what book I'm currently reading, but I'm enjoying rediscovering the genre.

  5. Hi Nadine,

    That's cool, why not? Sometimes when I visit my parents I find some of my Beverly Cleary books and read those!

  6. AnonymousJune 18, 2010

    This is really good stuff. When I want to make writing more fun, I do not write. I go out and have a good time. Preferably on my own so I can watch other people and make up fun things about them. Usually this puts me in such a good mood I have to rush home to put something on paper.

  7. Hi Melanie,

    That's a great point. Experiencing life only gives us more ideas to write about!

  8. Well, this is a good point to consider when writing and thanks for sharing this useful tips.

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