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The more diversely you read, the more distinctive your voice will be when you write. Find the inspirations of your inspirations and read their work, too. You either think you know everything there is to know about the English language, or the mere thought of nailing down grammar rules has you in a fit of panic because you think you don't know anything. If you think you know everything, do you know the difference between an em dash, an en dash, and a hyphen? Like before, it's all about taking it one baby step at a time. It's one of those clichés that's cliché only because it's so true.
We don't have the experience or the time or the talent or the inspiration. All you have to do is let your storyteller come back out and jump off that ledge. Here are 12 baby steps to start you off in the right direction. Read stuff you know you like and stuff you know you don't like.
But compared with the people who want to, the number is tiny. Everyone tells us we shouldn't, and we tell ourselves we can't. Like free falling, it's not incredibly safe, but it's not terribly difficult. It's an important step, but it doesn't have to be big.
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Summary: These resources discuss some terms and techniques that are useful to the beginning and intermediate creative nonfiction writer, and to instructors who are teaching creative nonfiction at these levels.
Mastering the language is, of course, an important step in becoming a writer because if you don't know how it works, you'll have a hard time constructing sentences that will make your heroes weep with envy. For example, let's say you want to have the setup for the novel finished in one month. Whether it's 100 words or 10,000 words, know that you are always getting closer to achieving your goal of writing a book and that you are a writer every step of the way. Being a writer isn't just about starting to write, though that's often the biggest step you'll take. Once you break any kind of streak, it's difficult to recover. (Sorry, Mom, but you only hit one of those.) If you can't find anyone in your community, go online.
Luckily, there are always ways to learn how to master the English language. It might sound a little obvious, but every story begins with a sentence. If you have to stare at that blank screen or piece of paper for an hour before you write anything, then do it. Calculate how many words a day you need to write to achieve that, and then try to stick to your schedule. I'm one of those people who needs to get amped up about things before I do them. Get in the habit of writing, and get into it so deeply that you can't escape. If you still fail, you could consider hiring a professional to critique your manuscript.
Do you want to know the secret to becoming a writer? For instance, you probably know that "the brown small dog" sounds weird compared to "the small brown dog," but you may not know why. You might find that once you've started, you can't stop. What's also great is that you can set goals for your writing based on the sections and their respective approximate word counts. No matter how scary that blank paper or screen is, you have to write. But soon, one day will turn into two, and that will turn into 10, which will turn into 30, and so on. It will feel so good when you meet (and maybe even pass! The most important thing is that you find people who are passionate and know what they're talking about.
But whether you're a native English speaker or you're just beginning to learn the language, there's a good chance that you have at least some kind of intuitive sense of how to use English properly as a language. Prove that the last sentence you wrote is true by supporting it with the next one, and so on. Write about the weather or your day or the man on the bus with the cane or a dragon and its horde. Next, map out how the story progresses point by point, and focus on writing one section at a time. But, most important, don't leave that desk until you achieve your word goal for the day. Bad things will happen in your life, and writing will seem like a giant waste of time. When the writing gets tough, the tough get writing. If you forgo writing one day just because you feel like it or because you're a little tired and you'd rather marathon Netflix instead, it will seem innocent enough. You've been writing and writing and writing, and you've met your goal. If not, or if you just need a fresh set of eyes, you can have a professional edit your work for you, because we live in a convenient and beautiful world. But please don't go to them expecting that they can give you helpful advice for improving your story or insight into the symbolism in Chapter 3. It's not their fault; they're not writers like you. You can look for critique groups in libraries or cultural centers.
Remember, though: if you wanted to write a lovers' tragedy and your mentor thinks the couple should get married at the end instead, ignore that advice. Your polished work will need some kind of publishing platform, so it's time to consider your options.
That's not making your work the best version of itself; that's making it something else entirely. Don't bruise at the slightest critique, but don't take every hit without flinching, either. Do you want to submit your manuscript to publishers? Do you want to simply post your novel to Google Docs and share it with friends? No matter what you do, as a writer, it's likely you'll face some rejection.