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I have been told many times that the best way to get better at a skill is simple: practice, practice, practice. To go along with that, the easiest way to lose that same skill is to get out of practice, or not expand it. In my years in college, another lesson was taught to me: There are many ways to look at the exact same skill, and if I open myself up to them, they will help improve the way I think about them all. A dramatic actor may find that comedy isn’t something they have done before, but a well-executed comedic routine can improve their overall skill. Actor Robert De Niro may have numerous dramatic performances, but he’s done quite a few comedies as well—and yes, that includes several stinkers. It’s the same with other actors, like Kate Winslet or Emma Thompson. Writers who find themselves continuously covering the same ground can find that they work themselves into a rut. How do they find creative ways to write and express themselves? Recently, Daily Kos had a writers’ workshop, a fantastic way to learn more about how to use our platform. Even before this event, FreeWriters encouraged writers at Daily Kos to use comments to write creatively and to learn about how they write, the things that attract them to writing, and the stories that compel them.
There is power in writing fiction
I love writing about things that happen in the real world, I really do. Expressing how I feel about daily events, my own rants on the world, discussing politics, or just the globe in general. However, writing fiction is a very different skill. It’s a creative process that makes you think about a world you wish you lived in, or a world you would dread. You can see a magical place with superpowers, or a dreary place in the past of battles and loss. You could write like Monty Python’s Holy Grail or John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. John Irving’s Prayer for Owen Meany really meant something to you? Did you find that G.R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series enthralled you (but where the heck is Winds of Winter)? Well, all of these are people who are able to tell their stories. No one expects every person to write as though they were award winners, but writing fiction can give you a different way to communicate with your friends.
What is interesting is the more work you do on building your nonfiction writing skills, the more you build confidence. When you write in any format, you find that your overall writing skills improve. When you write in a fiction format, you can see how it’s easier to relate many of your stories to real-life situations. You may not personally know someone impacted by a law or an action, so you have to imagine a fictional person and make your own story about how it impacts them. You can be told directly about large communities, and eventually you may get a single person’s story, but it will never be the level of narrative you can achieve with your imagination.
Varying your language and words, building a vocabulary
We don’t all have a thesaurus nearby, but when you’re using the same words over and over again without variation, it becomes pretty monotonous. In this week’s Write On!, the group covers the idea of using word variation, providing valuable insight as to ways you can improve your writing. It gives members a way to learn more about the language that reflects their style. Maybe you’re someone who would never say “warble,” but “chirp” is a term that makes sense to you.
If you want to play with a new style and have people support you as you do it, FreeWriters represents the kind of welcoming group that says: “Hey, let’s skillshare. That’s the way we all get better.”
Some music always helps me.