Category Archive: tips

Sep 26 2013

My Top 5 Most Helpful Blog Posts for Writers: Part 2

fiveI’ve been all over the Internet, dropping off tidbits of advice here and there that may help your freelance writing, book writing, blogging, and marketing efforts.

Below are descriptions and links to 5 of my own blog posts (published on this site and others) that I believe are the most helpful for writers.

Part 1 is here: My Top 5 Most Helpful Blog Posts for Writers.

 

1. The Elementary Marketing Tactic You Don’t Know You’re Missing

Trying to make a name for yourself?

Yep, most of us are. That’s why we roam the Internet, visiting blog after blog, signing up to mailing lists, for webinars, tutorials, and otherwise investing in our freelancing careers.

We ask ourselves questions like: How can I reach a wider audience? How can I prove that I’m the expert my client needs? How can I become a recognizable face in my field?

2. How Your Past Mistakes Can Make You a Go-To Blogger

We all make mistakes.

Most people learn from their own mistakes. Some learn from other people’s mistakes.

Why is this important?

This is one way you become an authority, a go-to person, an expert.

According to my Encarta dictionary, an expert is “someone who is skilled or knowledgeable about a particular subject, skill, training, or who is experienced in a particular field or activity”. We’re all experts of something, be it parenting, football, writing, or Twitter.

3. 8 Ways to Generate Blogging Ideas

Having a hard time coming up with new and interesting blog post ideas?

Looking for a new slant on an existing topic, or even something more original to blog about?

Been there. Maybe we all have.

Here are 8 ways to generate some fresh blogging ideas no matter what field you’re in. They’ve helped me. I’m sure they will help you too.

4. How to Earn Recognition as a Writer

When asked the question, “What can a writer do to get noticed?” Some people may simply answer . . . write. They believe that all a writer must do for a little recognition is to write and write a lot and eventually you would have so many books or articles that someone is bound to recognize you.

Yes, writing is important as a writer and definitely one of the first things you should do, but you also must write well. Many newbies forget this rule. It is one thing to be known as “that woman who writes stories that pulls you in,” verses “that chick who uses the word agenda too much.”

5. Simple Solutions to Ten Common Writing Roadblocks

Writers are as different as the stories they tell or the expert information they provide. Even so, many things we share are the problems that plaque us as creative individuals.

Here are ten of the most common challenges writers face at one point in their career. But, fear no more. I’ve got the solution to all ten of your writer issues.

 

 

And there you have it. Part two to My Top 5 Most Helpful Posts for Writers. Feel free to share your very own helpful blog post or two for writers in the comments section below.  I’d love to check ’em out! (I’ve installed CommentLuv to make sharing your posts easier.)

 

 

Image credit: Andreas Cappell

Jul 30 2013

Simple Solutions to Ten Common Writing Roadblocks

help

Writers are as different as the stories they tell or the expert information they provide. Even so, many things we share are the problems that plague us as creative individuals. Here are ten of the most common challenges writers face at one point in their career. But, fear no more. I’ve got the solution to all ten of your writer issues.

Lack of Ideas

Where do you get your ideas from? Almost all artist have been asked that very question. The reason this is a popular question is because people are always looking for ways to be inspired. Coming up with creative ideas can be a tedious process.

Ideas for stories, characters, settings, plots and even articles come from everywhere. Here’s a list of places to look for some creative inspiration:

  • News stories. Everything from the weather (for apocalyptic tales) to announcements of the latest lottery winners (for tales of cursed families) can be a source of inspiration. News stories are often so fantastic that you don’t have to stretch the imagination much to plot a story.
  • Past experiences are not just a good place to look for writing your memoir. We all have a past, and by choosing specific and emotional parts from your experiences, you could spin it into an inspiring, entertaining, and memorable story.
  • Strangers. Play the guessing game. Guess a stranger’s life story, occupation, ambitions, secrets, etc., just by the way they look, sound, what they’re wearing, what they’re doing, or what car they drive. When you play the guessing game it helps your mind invent some great characters and their motives.
  • Entertainment. Movies, books, poems, music, paintings, pictures, and even food can give you some great ideas. Their themes, messages, or the emotion they incite in you can be a powerful tool for gathering ideas.
  • Secrets, fantasies, and daydreams. Some of the best tales come strictly from what’s hiding in the deep, dark corners of our minds. Things that we’d rather not say or do ourselves but can allow our characters to say and act out, sometimes make for the most fascinating characters, situations and plot lines.

Lack of Originality

Has every idea that pops into your mind been overused, overwritten, and overworked? Even plots twists and character quirks are turning into clichés?

Put your own flair on clichés so the idea would be appreciated instead of being boring. Use clichés to your advantage.

  • Combine and create. Take multiple clichés and combined them to create something new (i.e. the popular high school jock also happens to be a lonely computer geek at home).
  • State the obvious. Purposely set up a cliché scenario and have the characters point out the cliché. By crafting your story using this technique, you say what the reader is thinking so they’re less likely to call you out on it. it’s also a good way to incorporate some humor.

Lack of Inspiration

Sometimes it’s a combination of lack of originality, rejection and self-doubt that can make us feel uninspired, or causes the fierce determination we once had to dwindle. Here are some ways to get back that motivation.

  • Go back to the beginning. Remember the reason you wanted to start the project in the first place. Reliving that passion might reignite the flame.
  • Envision the end. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you’ll get once you’ve finished your project. Imagine the rewards you might receive (i.e. the ability to share your work, the inspiration you’ll give to others who read your work, the amazing feedback, the fan letters, etc).
  • Surround yourself with positive things. Decorate your office or writing space with your awards, fan mail, and other accomplishments and achievements. This should remind you of where you came from and where you’re headed, and encourage you to reach your goals.

Rejection

If you haven’t experienced rejection in your writing career, prepare to. Rejection is the most common experience writers share. Be it manuscript rejection from an editor or agent, or rejection from readers in their reviews of your book. One way or another, you will experience rejection. The trick to getting through this is to understand how rejection can help you.

  • Rejection helps you understand where you need to improve. It sets you up for later success by giving you an advantage on your next project. At least now you know what areas you need to focus on and develop in the future.
  • Rejection, and handling it properly, helps you develop a thick skin. No matter what, rejection hurts, but over time you will learn to take it in stride. Let it work for you, not against you.
  • Rejection happens to us all, even to the best of us. Stephen King’s bestselling novel Carrie was rejected thirty times before finally getting published, becoming a worldwide bestseller and made into the classic film, and later, a couple remakes. Understanding rejection is a part of the business–and that it happens to the best of us–will prepare you for it and help you handle it successfully when it happens. Never allow rejection to keep you from pursuing your goals.

Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is a big one, and can usually come about because of our experience with rejection or not enough experience in writing or publishing in general. We tend to doubt that we have what it takes to accomplish our goals. “Do I know what I’m doing? Will I ever be published? No one will read my work. Who in their right mind would take a chance on me?” The list goes on and on.

Some of us struggle with self-doubt in many areas of our life, but the trick to overcome this debilitating power is to focus on your worth, your accomplishments, and your good qualities instead of dwelling on your failures and weaknesses.

  • Find your strengths. What are you good at? What can you do flawlessly? What are you most proud of? What have you accomplished so far?
  • Discover your value. What makes you noteworthy, respected, unique, or attractive?

Answering these question can help you rid yourself of that pesky self-doubt and bring back your confidence.

Poor Time Management Skills

Falling behind on projects? Find yourself being late or having to postpone obligations a lot lately? You find yourself not following through on commitments you’ve made? You may have poor time management skills. It can get the best of us, from the established writer to the beginner. Here’s some things to keep in mind.

  • Keep a schedule and adhere to it. Create an online editorial calendar (or update your smartphone calendar or even tack up a wall calendar) to keep track of deadlines, dates of submissions and other important dates, and never trust your memory to do the job for you.
  • Plan ahead. Managing a blog? Take advantage of your blog’s “Schedule Post” option. Write your blog posts ahead of time and schedule them to publish at a later date.
  • Integrate social media. Use social media integration to cut back on the time it takes to market your work and projects to your online social network sites. So when your latest blog goes live it automatically shares with your followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. This is another way to automate your life.

Catch-22s

You want to pitch an article to a publication, but the editor requests published clips. However, you won’t ever get published clips if you can’t land a gig. Or maybe you need a published book to attract a platform, but you need a platform before you can sell your book.

These are just a couple of the many paradoxes writers have to grapple with. So what do you do? How do you get through it?

  • In need of some clips or writing samples? Pluck an article or blog post from your own blog, website or use a guest blog post in the related subject.
  • Can’t get website visitors to sign up to your mailing list or newsletter? Offer something of high value for free in exchange for them signing up. Offer exclusive information to subscribers. Give away highly valued information or secrets that will help your audience.
  • Need to build your writer platform? Write free guest posts in your field. Give away some great tips and advice to help build a following and a reputation, all with the help of another expert’s established platform.

There are many ways around the inconsistencies you might face in the publishing industry. Just use your creativity to think outside the box and get the results you crave.

Procrastination

One surefire way to avoid putting off writing, marketing or other duties is to avoid distractions and temptations. What you don’t do today may not always get done tomorrow, especially if you keep adding to your to-do list. Here’s how to keep procrastination from taking over your time.

  • Make a vow. Commit to a specific time frame or time of day to write. Vow to write at the prearranged time every day.
  • Stay motivated. Motivate yourself with incentives. Set small goals and reward yourself as you hit each goal.
  • Avoid distractions. Isolate yourself away from distractions while you work. Turn off the phone and internet, unplug the television, and put your tablets and reading devices away. No checking emails or status updates. Focus solely on writing for the allotted time.
  • Prevent interruptions. Make sure your family members have everything they need before you sit down to write, to limit interruptions, and that includes taking care of your own needs as well.
  • Do it now. Don’t put it off. Bestselling science fiction author Hugh Howey’s secret to success is “When I see something that needs doing, I do it.” Simple as that.

Fear of Failure

Just like rejection and self-doubt, the fear of failure can hold us back from what we could accomplish and often does. Fear is a powerful emotion, and the sense of failing can be just as powerful. So how do you combat this common writer problem?

  • Accept that you can’t win at everything. Understand that failure is an option but not the end all. You may have failed at one point in your career and will probably fail again sometime down the road, but you can handle it.
  • Imagine the worse possible outcome and come up with a plan to counter it. Come up with a just-in-case scenario. Having a plan will help you move on, but gives you the courage to confront and overcome your fear in case it manifests.
  • Live it and let it go. Imagine the worse possible outcome, live it in your mind, realized it’s not the end of the world, and get it out of your system. The fear wouldn’t hold as much power over your productivity.

Writer’s Block

Lastly, the infamous writer’s block. We all claim to suffer from this ailment from time to time. Sitting at our desks and staring at a blank document on the screen is nothing more than the result of the above plagues in many combinations; self-doubt, fear of failure, a little bit of procrastination, a sprinkle of poor time management, etc.

Writer’s block does not exist. That’s right. It’s only a name we give to the act of not being able to creatively produce. We should not give power to the illusion. Here’s how to break free.

  • Do not acknowledge writer’s block as anything else but an excuse not to craft. Definitely do not give it a name. Call it exactly what it is. Instead of believing you have some sort of mystical block and waiting around for a magical veil to lift and eliminate it, admit the true problem (i.e. I can’t seem to come up with any fresh ideas today). By understanding the underlying issue, you know how to better tackle it and resolve it.
  • Start somewhere. Anywhere. Start or continue writing your project at a more interesting part of your story or scene, like a love scene, the climax or ending. Or add a surprise or plot twist. Or simply start on the next chapter.  Add a new character or get rid of one. Write something. Anything.
  • Eliminate all distractions. No TV, no music, no phone, no checking emails or text messages, eat before sitting down at your desk so you are not distracted by hunger, etc.
  • Motivate yourself by setting a goal. Set a writing goal for the day or hour and reward yourself when you hit it.

 

Follow the solutions for these ten common writer problems and you’ll be back on track and on your way to making your writing dreams come true. Defeat your writer issues, don’t let them defeat you. Which writer roadblock have you recently hit or overcome?

 

Mar 28 2013

Writing Scenes, Settings & Descriptions Using the Film Director Method

director2I like to invent crazy methods for writing, and the film director method of writing descriptions is one of them. I’m assuming no one has claimed this method before, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had. Anyway, it’s easy to apply a method for crafting, especially if it works. Methods are an easy way to remember how to do something and do it well.

So, what is the film director method of writing scenes, settings and overall descriptions? And how can it help you write great descriptions?

What is the Film Director Method?

 

First, it is exactly how it sounds. We all dreamt of seeing our book played out on a movie screen, and this method involves doing exactly that.

According to Wikipedia, a film director is the person who “visualizes” the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision. In this case the “actors” are your characters and the “crew” is your writing skills. So in other words, a film director sees the film played out in their heads or on storyboards, etc., before they align actors (characters) and crew (writing skill) in order to portray that visual onscreen. This is exactly what you should do when writing your story so readers can visualize your scenes in their minds. A lot of the time, writers tend to see the story played out in their heads but fail to portray that vision onto paper. We tend to forget that the reader needs a lot of information, given in the right way in order to stimulate their senses and make them feel like they’re a part of the story. I’m going to show you how the “author” becomes the “director” with this method.

 

How to implement the method (the right way to stimulate senses):

 

When writing descriptions of settings, scenery, or even character description:

  1. Remember which character’s point of view (POV) you’re writing in and use their own words to describe what they see. This way it would feel true to life and true to that character.
  2. Use descriptive wording or verbs that match the tone and mood of the story. For example, the metaphor, “the boulder dropped out of nowhere like an anvil from a Looney Tune’s episode,” may be considered too cartoonish for a post-disaster tale.
  3. Use all of your senses. Putting the reader in the story is not just about describing what the characters see but also what they hear, smell, feel, and taste. This way you create an experience for the reader and not just telling a story.

Use the 5 senses: Showing vs. Telling. The film director method

 

If you’re wondering the difference between showing or telling, imagine “showing” is similar to using a camera to show the moment onscreen like a director, and imagine “telling” as the actual script telling how the moment should be portrayed onscreen. Readers want to “see the film” not “read the script.”

Show = Camera. Tell = Script. With that in mind, here’s how to use the five senses to describe settings, scenes and characters in your story.

  • What do you see? Not just a concrete floor or a small room. Show your readers by thinking like a film director. Imagine holding the camera yourself as you capture the scene. What color is the concrete floor? Does it look smooth or rough? What makes it look smooth or rough? The cracks and chips flaking off the surface? The way the character’s feet slide effortlessly across as she walks? Show what the camera is picking up. Is it zooming in on a particular spot of the floor? Where and why? The floor in the corner of the room stole your character’s attention because of the puddle of water that has collected there.
  • What do you smell? Is the water leaking from sewer pipes that give off a foul stench? Is it stagnant water from the previous evening’s rain? Or by the smell of it, is it something else entirely, gasoline, urine, oil?
  • What do you feel? Heat? Cold? Moisture? Static or tension in the atmosphere? A breeze? Motionless air?
  • What do you hear? Trickles of water, paint chips from the walls as they fall to the concrete floor, an uneasy silence?
  • What do you taste? Can you taste the bitterness in the air from the smoke coming from the burning pile of hay outside the barn?

Remember, everything that happens in the story including the things the characters sense must be important to the story. Even if the purpose is to show how dirty a place and its residence are, or poorly a place has been taken care of, or how maintained, etc. Everything in fiction happens for a reason and have to make sense in the overall scheme of things.

Using all the senses in description is how to get comments from readers about how they were immersed in the story and felt like they were in the book right alongside your characters. By simply envisioning yourself in the director chair and by writing down the words which describes exactly how you see your story unfolding on a big screen is how to get one step closer to providing that immersion experience for your readers.

Do you have a method you want to share? What do you think of my method?

Feb 28 2013

Why Blogging about Yourself is Boring, How to Keep Your Writings Interesting

bored When I browse titles of articles and blog posts, I look for headlines that jump out at me, a title that states something similar to the information I’m seeking at that particular time. For example, if I’m looking for tips on writing great headlines, the article titled “How to Write Great Headlines” catches my eye.

When I begin reading the article, I’m expecting the answers to my questions immediately. I mean, that’s the point in reading the article, right? So when I have to skim through several paragraphs of, “Me, I, we, us,” etc., I immediately get bored. Just get to the point already!

Why we get bored

You probably skimmed (or skipped) the first two paragraphs because you wanted to get to the point. And that’s my point exactly. You didn’t click on this post to know more about me and mine. You clicked to get information, to satisfy a curiosity, to know WHY. And the reason is…

No one cares about you.

As harsh as it sounds, it’s true. No one cares about YOU, the world only cares about what it can get FROM you. I know it sounds negative, but there’s a lot to learn from the negatives. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and sometimes it helps to know the harsh truths.

It might lessen the blow to know there are exceptions, but here’s the blunt truth.

  1. Unless you are well-known, famous, or a celebrity in your own right, nobody cares about you, your experiences, or your opinions.
  2. Unless you’re doing something interesting, involved in something extraordinary, doing something that can affect a massive group or cause, or provide a service where your opinion or your experience matters (i.e. a psychic, a doctor, a journalist, a politician, an activist, expert, etc.), people will skim or skip whatever you’ve written especially if you begin your piece with I, me or my.

For instance, in my posts 4 Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From and 4 MORE Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From, I mention “I, me and mine” because I have to tell you my mistakes and what I learned from them in order for YOU to learn from them. It makes sense, right? Otherwise, where’s the takeaway?

How to keep people Interested

If you have a story to tell …

  • Make sure your story pertains to others, make sure it’s helpful, and make sure it’s relatable. Talk about how your manuscript rejections made you stronger and how your readers could become stronger from rejections too. Pertains to others? Check. Helpful? Check. Relatable? Check.
  • Tell a story that is valuable to readers and is sought out. For example, tell the story about how you worked at a bookstore, quit your job, and became a national bestselling author, selling your book’s film rights to movie producers. Hugh Howey, anyone?
  • Make sure you stick to the necessities. Don’t wander off topic talking about your toe nail color, unless that is the topic. Unless your toenails have something to do with your blog post or article, don’t include it. Sure we want to see a little bit of your personality, we want to get to know you a bit, but most of the time we’re thinking “get to the point already!”
  • Keep your bio for the end of the piece. Yeah, it’s important your readers know you have a Master’s degree in Philanthropy, you’ve won three Nobel Prizes back-to-back, and you saved thousands of endangered baby seals (are these things logical?). However, including that information at the bottom of your piece will keep people interested in your piece without getting distracted with an opening paragraph of your accomplishments … and in first person at that. Again, unless you are specifically writing about those topics, or your accomplishments are the focus of your piece (in regards to teaching and helping others, I assume), leave the “I, me and mine” for your bio.

 

Now, I can go on and tell you the story about where I got the idea to write this post, but you’d just get bored.

 

 

Feb 15 2013

4 MORE Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From

Last week I listed 4 Mistakes I’ve make in my writing career that you can learn from. This week I’m listing FOUR MORE! Below are some mistakes I’ve made in my writing career that, hopefully, you’ll never have to make yourself to learn from them.

 

1. Using bland book covers

Even though my book was a YA title which discussed serious issues like; dissociation, rape, and cutting, I thought the image of a sunset was too beautiful to not use as the cover of my book.
My Mistake: I was thinking about what looked pretty as a book cover instead of my target audience and how the cover would translate to those readers.
The Lesson: Great book covers help sell books, right? Not only does a great cover help to sell the book, it also conveys the book’s overall message through the cover images and design. Sometimes you can correctly guess the book’s genre just by looking at the title, the font, images, etc. So if you are serious about targeting the right readers and standing up to the competition consider a professional, well thought out design for your book’s cover instead of using a basic or bland cover.

 

2. Not using a pen name for different genres

I write mostly fiction with spice (i.e., erotic romance) but in the beginning of my career I swayed a bit and wrote a couple of young adult books. All seemed well, except I never considered using a different name to separate my adult books from my young adult books.
My Mistake: I wrote for two completely different genres using the same name. Those genres were complete opposites and definitely needed to be separate.
The Lesson: If you write different or conflicting genres, consider using a pen name. If you don’t want to use a totally different pseudonym but want it to be different enough to distinguish between the genres you write in, use your initials or your name mixed around (i.e., L.L. Sanders, Leslie Lee, or Lee L. Sanders).  It’s still your name, and still recognizable to your readers, but separates the many genres you write.

 

3. Experimenting with fiction

There’s nothing wrong with experimenting. However, I can’t break the rules without understanding and applying them first. No one can.
My Mistake: Once upon a time, I had a master plan to write at least one book in EVERY single genre. Now reread that last sentence and take a moment to process what I just said. Yeah, big mistake! Although I managed to write and publish in three different genres (Romance, Young Adult and Horror) I did use a pen name for my horror. So, I think I earned a gold star for that good idea.
The Lesson: As much as we enjoy reading different genres, not all of us has what it takes to successfully write in every single genre. Sometimes writing well requires you write a lot in a specific genre to develop the skills necessary to make it a satisfying read. Now, I’m sure it’s possible to do and probably has been done, but it’s mighty difficult to manage several different personas, platforms, marketing strategies, writing styles, etc.

 

4. Moving ahead when not ready

Rushing. Rushing to write, rushing to edit, and rushing to submit and/or publish.
My Mistake: I struggle with this even now. It’s a hard habit to break when you have so much to do in a twenty-four hour day, especially if you self-publish because usually you’re doing everything on your own. If only our days were forty-eight hours instead and there were no such things as deadlines.

The Lesson: Rushing to complete a task more than likely results in poor performance, especially if you don’t spend enough time away from your project to look at it with fresh eyes. You hear that advice all the time, I’m sure. Put the manuscript away for a few days or weeks, get it out of your mind, then come back to it. You would have removed yourself from it long enough to see it in a new, fresh perspective. Then you can move forward to the next step with more confidence and a sense of completion of the previous step.

 

Feb 27 2012

Read More to Write Better

Sure we read fiction to escape reality or to be entertained. We read nonfiction to learn or to be inspired. We read for various reasons. However, did you know to be a better writer you have to read? Not just read, but read analytically.

 

Reading often and with an analytical eye will help you do the following:

Understand the three-act structure of storytelling

This one’s fairly easy and something that does not necessarily have to be taught to you if you read fiction regularly. The more you read the more you absorb the three-act structure of storytelling. I wouldn’t be surprised to know a four year old could tell an adequate story in less than five sentences just by having someone read him a bedtime story every night.


The dinosaur lost his blanket. He travels the land for days in search of the blanket and spots it near the top of a volcano. He climbs up the mountainside, fighting lava monsters until he finally makes it to the blanket and takes it back. He safely returns to his mommy and daddy, and lives happily ever after.

 

 

As dull as that story is, it’s still a complete story that contains the three act structure with Setup, Confrontation and Resolution. We understand this structure early and easily in stories just by reading and reading often.

Helps to study the market

Compare your books to other books by reading similar books in your genre with similar themes. It allows you to see how popular or appealing that genre and theme is, how your story compares to it in terms of uniqueness, and helps you discover overdone plots and overused characters and other clichés.
With that information you can write a book that stands out from the competition and produces buzz. You can also see the commonalities of your genre and understand why readers gravitate (or not) to those types of books so you can better provide reader satisfaction.

 

Helps to find your voice

When reading stories with similar themes as your own you  can analyze how other authors tell their stories and why you think their voice worked or didn’t work for that book. Is it too dark? Fast paced with choppy sentences? Does it lack tone or emotion?
Finding out how the narrative voice fits with the book or not will help you see which style is best for your own story.

 

Helps to broaden your vocabulary and improve your grammar

We read many words while reading some of our favorite books and some are words we’re not familiar with. We learn and memorize those words and add them to our vocabulary. With every story we read our vocabulary grows. The more words you know, the easier it is to write and be more descriptive.
We can be our own teachers at times and improve our grammar just by reading regularly. Seeing a word spelled a certain way, or with an apostrophe here or there becomes second nature to mimic that in our own writing.
Plus, more people should easily understand the difference between the words then and than if they read those words in a few sentences often. (A tiny peeve of mine).

Bad excuses NOT to read as a writer

  • Afraid of stealing ideas from another book or author.
This is a poor excuse, in my opinion. True, there are few original ideas left (if any) but there are limitless ways of telling a story. You have a unique voice, style and creativity that it’s nearly impossible for two people with the same idea to tell the exact same story.
  • It takes away writing time.

If you’re on a deadline, sure writing time is few.  However, plenty writers benefit when they read almost as much (if not more) than they write, for reasons stated above.

 

So continue to write but remember to read and read often for entertainment, inspiration or whatever the reason, but especially if you want to improve as a writer.

Do you agree with my points? Do you have something to add that I may have missed?