What Helps Me Grow as a Writer

Creative writing in the new frontier

It’s an exciting time for writers. We no longer have to wait months or years to publish our words to the world. We also have access to writing tools that helps us improve our writing.

Many things have helped me grow as a writer. The number one thing that has helped is learning from writers who are where I want to be.

One of the first top writers I ran across when I joined Medium was Sinem Günel. Although I have been writing and blogging longer than she has been alive, I was new to Medium and wanted to learn from someone who has mastered the platform.

I was intrigued that Sinem found success on Medium with no prior writing experience and English as a second language. I wanted to know her ‘secret’ to success. My income from blogging for 30 years doesn’t equal what Sinem has made on Medium in the last year!

It wasn’t hard to learn her ‘secret’. It is the same one successful writers have been using since the beginning of time. Write consistently!

Write consistently!

Writing consistently applies to me. I will get on a roll and write every day for a month or two. Then I get distracted by some shiny object and before I know it, skipping a day becomes a few months. Then I have to work hard at picking up momentum again.

What if I just committed to writing 100 words a day? It’s similar to committing to exercising at least 5 minutes a day. Once you get started, you often go over your goal. One hundred words can quickly become a thousand words when you get into a flow state. My muse never fails to show up when I sit down and write.

Grammarly — A Writer’s Best Friend

Grammarly has helped me grow as a writer. Their tagline should be, ‘A Writer’s Best Friend.’ Wouldn’t you love to have a best friend who finds typos and grammatical errors for everything you write? Plus, do edits to help make your story more readable for the specific audience you choose? Grammarly does all of that.

I used the free version at first and liked the challenge of correcting the errors Grammarly found. But, it was time-consuming. So, I purchased the premium version that suggests edits. It is worth the investment. I can’t believe everything it finds — a comma here, there, and everywhere; inconsistent quotation marks; typos; tighter phrases; and other things that slip by my experienced editor eye!

Writing Challenges — Think outside the box

Writing challenges help me grow as a writer. I doubt I would have thought to write on this topic if not for The Writing Cooperative’s Writing Challenge! Writing challenges help me think outside the box. I sometimes get locked in on a topic, like music. I have written a lot about my love of music, but does it solve a problem? Of course, we read for entertainment, but I think we mostly read to find solutions to problems.

What problem does this writing challenge solve? A ‘how to’ problem. We aspiring writers always want to learn how to do our job better and be successful doing what we love — at least I do! I have attended many writing workshops and read hundreds of books on the subject.

If I had to pick one book that has helped me the most as a writer, it would be The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. It was the book that helped me see myself as a writer. Before reading The Artist Way, I would not call myself a writer because I didn’t feel worthy of the title. I didn’t have an MFA. I wasn’t traditionally published. I didn’t make much money from my writing. Julia said, “If you write, you’re a writer.”

“If you write, you’re a writer.” ~ Julia Cameron, The Artist Way

She also encourages aspiring writers to write ‘Morning Pages’ — three handwritten pages about anything that comes to mind. This habit helped me gain confidence as a writer. I realized that I could write about any topic. I just have to sit down, focus, and write.

I could write a book about all the things that helped me grow as a writer. I will add it to my long list of books to write! I have learned that re-purposing content is the ‘secret’ to making money as a writer.

I would write all day, every day if I could (when I’m not reading). Unfortunately, the electric company and grocery store don’t accept words as payment. Wouldn’t that be so cool if we could barter with poetry and prose?!

Tim Denning wrote an article about monetizing content by taking it a step further to teach what you know.

Teaching is what Tim Denning, Sinem Günel, Zulie Rane, Adrian Drew, and many other top Medium writers are doing to grow their writing career exponentially!

The last thing I have to say on this topic today is probably the most important one:

Engage to Ignite

Engage with other writers to ignite your passion! We writers tend to spend a lot of time in our heads, but a world of adventure awaits us when we make time to engage with others who are as passionate about the writing craft as we are. Trust me, your family and friends won’t get your obsession with writing. I’ve tried and often get an EGO (eyes glazed over) response.

Other writers get it. Spend time getting to know writers online and in your community. You will be surprised by the outcome. I have met writers from all over the world. I even met The Riff creator Noah Levy in person during my recent vacation to Florida. It was a surreal experience for us both!

For those about to write, we salute you! OK, maybe my twisted music reference is cheesy, but I love music almost as much as writing.

Write on!

WriterKat, aka Kathy Gerstorff, is an indie author, blogger, and poet. You can find her books, merch, and what else she’s up to at writerkat.com.

Indie author, poet, creative soul who loves art and life in all its various forms. writerkat.com

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