1. Read at least one short story a week.
At the moment, though I’m writing one longer piece that almost resembles a novella, I’m focusing on shorter pieces for a number of reasons.
– I want to tighten and refine my writing style/voice.
– I’d like a few good solid pieces for submissions and competitions.
– I find it unbelievably useful to finish something.
Google short stories, hit the charity shops (they usually have a literature section) pick up writing magazines or short story anthologies.
2. Attend a writing group or start one.
Advice, suggestions and perspective from fellow writers is invaluable. I’ve been attending a writing group for over two years now and I honestly don’t think I could have made the progress without them. Have a google of your local area and see if anything pops up, if not maybe you could start a Facebook group, reserve a table at a pub or cafe, and drag a friend along (it might not be successful for the first one but persevere!)
3. Write whenever and wherever.
Here is where I should probably refer to my previous post and my fifteen thousand unfinished notepads (slight exaggeration). I have them all over so I can always pick one up and write a sentence, a word, something to research later, an idea, a song lyric, a name, an invention – my list can go on and on. They don’t always feel useful when I look back on my scribbles, sometimes I use them months later, and sometimes, every once in a while it’s an idea that alters, enhances or inspires a project I’m working on. So live the cliché and have a pen and paper on you at all times.
4. Attend any courses you can.
I’m pretty lucky and I don’t live far from two great organisations: The Nottingham Writer’s Studio and the Derby Quad. I’m booked onto Women In horror at the Quad, a ZINE workshop in Nottingham and the Writer’s Conference (a busy few months!). I’m never exactly sure what I’m going to learn or how I’m going to benefit but I always do. Sometimes in small ways and sometimes it really makes me learn something about myself or a project I’m working on. It’s also a good way to meet fellow writers.
5. Watch, read, and listen.
Pretty self explanatory this one. The great authors, directors, and musicians are the greatest teachers. Read as much as you can, watch movies from 2018 and from decades ago, listen to music/podcasts/radio programmes.