Ask Him: Exercises for Becoming a Better Writer

dear diary.

dear diary.

Sometimes my friends who do things other than write for a living ask me how they can get started writing. I tell to write as often as they can, to be unafraid of showing it to people, and to be ready to take constructive criticism and a barrage of mean comments lobbed at them by anonymous online haters.

I also point out that—especially in the current technological environment—there are myriad ways on can squeeze some creative writing into their every day lives.

Here are seven ways I like to do it that may work for you, as well:

Twitter is by far the best way to teach yourself to write concisely, and it’s great if you’re somebody who thinks they’d like to do some quick-hitting joke writing. When you have 140 characters to work with, you really learn how to write concisely, to include only what you need to to get your point or micro-story across to your audience of three followers, one of whom is your mother.

By now, your two main modes of communication are probably text messages and emails. Don’t be afraid to put some creative flair into them. Make them fun to read. Spend some time thinking about what you want to say, and then craft it in the best way possible. Consider grammar while you’re doing this. Nothing is sexier than a grammatically correct and properly punctuated text message. (Actually that’s not at all true.)

Spend some time really working your online dating profiles. If you don’t have one, get one. If you’re in a relationship, help a friend write for his or hers. Make your profile a word-filled thing of beauty. When you send messages, spend some time crafting them for eloquence, and use your fingers on the keyboard to massage all the damn creepiness out of it, for once. This is probably the best way to incorporate writing practice into getting laid. And, of course, Tinder and Hinge are a great combination of the texting and wooing writing practice.

Keeping a journal is excellent writing practice, because you can write whatever the hell you want without worry of people seeing it. You know how they say character is who you are when no one is watching? Same applies for writing. You can get super weird with it and try new things to see if you dig them before you unleash a wild new style for inspection by the masses. It can also be extremely cathartic to write in a journal. At the end of the day, you get to unload your deepest secrets and thoughts—my journal and me are the only entities that know where I buried all those hookers—and you’ll always have these documents to look back on when your memory begins to fail you.

Keep a dream journal, as well. Dreams are very difficult to explain in any form, so writing about them will present a unique challenge, and may also help you make more sense of what your subconscious is trying to tell you while you sleep at night.

Become an avid Yelp reviewer. When you go to a place, make a point to write about it later, and do what you can to take it beyond your typical reviewer’s attempts, which are generally like “THE FOOD HERE SUX!” Address the food, the environment, the beautiful bartender (I prefer the waitresses) and the color of his hair…

Write letters by hand. It’s likely that you’re faster at typing than handwriting. So writing a letter with a pen will make you more prone to think deeply about what you want to say before you write it. The backspace key is dope, but you’ll develop some nice writing practices if you learn to become less dependent on it.

Read as often and as much as you possibly can. I know this isn’t writing, but it’s what you need to do to become a better writer. It’s like how you watch Downton Abbey to help you better understand how men should treat women. (That’s why you watch it right?)

+ Leave a Reply