I’ve probably already written a rant like this one before, but that’s bound to happen every once in a while. When you write a weekly column about a particular subject for years like I have, you’re bound to repeat a topic or two. 

This week’s column is all about honing your skill. So, for Christmas I was given a gift card to Amazon. In hindsight I should have bought a belt. I say that because as I write this, I’m wearing a makeshift belt. My one and only belt broke earlier in the day so I had to improvise until I could buy another one. Coincidentally, I had to also purchase a new window wiper blade for my car due to it breaking off mid-drive on my way to work. And the funny thing was that I accidentally bought the rear window wiper blade. You would think a sane person would just return the item and purchase the correct one. However, I am a writer and therefore, not very sane. Plus, the rear window wiper blade fits and works perfectly. Well… perfectly for about 40 percent of the front window. 

It’s been a weird week. I cannot wait for it to be over.

In the Bible, Proverbs 27:17 says that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

In the context of The Bible, it’s meant to advise believers to spend time with other believers. One person can be used by God to help the other. It’s supposed to be a mutually beneficial relationship. 

However, you don’t have to be a Christian to take advantage of this wisdom. 

As writers we should be constantly using other writers to sharpen our own writing skills. There’s a couple of ways to do this.

The first way would be to read a book. I know, you were probably expecting some great revelation, but no, it’s a pretty simple one.

Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Reading a story is like attending a TEDTalk or some other seminar. There’s a lesson in every book you happen to pick up. Every author has a different style of writing, worldbuilding, and storycraft. By reading those books, you’ll learn about what works and what doesn’t. Bad writing will often teach more lessons than good writing. 

As you begin to read more, you’ll notice common themes, plots, and character types. If you’re writing a story and you realize it shares some of those things, don’t freak out. They’re common for a reason. However, by reading you can alter the course of your book so that it differs from the books you’ve read. Let’s be honest, at this point in Literary History it’s tough to write an original story. 

Another way to sharpen your writing is to be around other writers. When I was in college, I was in a writing club and it was the highlight of my college career. We would meet once a week and read each other’s stories and offer positive critiques. We even went to a writing convention in Seattle before we all graduated. 

Unless you’re one of those Author Hermit types, I urge everyone to find a writing group.

That’s it for this week y’all. Sorry to keep it short this week, but I’ve got to go belt shopping. Until next week, keep calm and write on!

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