I’ve been writing for many years now, professionally, at a job as a Technical Writer (although I retired from this job several years ago) and even longer as a writer of fiction, mostly, as well as non-fiction. I took a couple of Creative Writing courses in college where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in English. I still have the stories I wrote at that time and am so grateful I kept at it because I can easily see how much I’ve improved.

Sometimes we feel like we aren’t making any progress at all with our writing. We read and re-read what we wrote and are disappointed with what we see as immature, inexperienced writing. Especially when we compare our writing to other writers whose books are on the NY Times Best Seller list. How can we ever get there, we wonder?

Fortunately, we keep learning. Especially if we continue writing and reading other authors’ works to learn what good writing looks like. And you should read novels by authors whose work is considered, by a vast majority of critics, good writing. For example, I regularly read Pulitzer winners and runner ups.  I recently read a quote by Faulkner who said to read everything, good, bad, etc. I used to agree with this but now I would say, you only have to read a few poorly written works to know what it looks like and whether or not your writing fits in this category. I would recommend you read mostly novels that have been written by good writers. Not all books on the NY Times Best Seller list are written by good writers – sometimes a novel is popular because people like the story or when several books have been written about a main character. These novels certainly will not win any Pulitzers but they may make a lot of money for the author. Beach reading, they are called.  I prefer to write a novel that fits both categories; well-written and a great story.

Although I still have days when I want to give up because I’m just not seeing as much improvement as I would like, all I have to do is re-read one of my college stories to know that I’m far beyond where I once was. And I’m looking forward to getting better all the time.

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