October 7, 2015

by Jenna Cosgrove

Want to be a better writer? You can be. And it’s simple, but also counter-intuitive in many ways.

I could give you a thousand grammar tricks, spelling tips, editing theories… but none of this is what makes you a better writer. In fact, getting better has nothing to do with writing at all.

To become better at writing, you need to become better at living.

Because what makes great writing, is great insight. It comes from experience, from observation of those around us. Even just sitting outside and watching the way people walk, talk, and interact gives you a better understanding of people. That’s key to writing – it’s an exploration of humanity. Even when it isn’t about humans, it’s always about humanity.

Your job as a writer is to offer insight into some facet of human nature, of our connection to each other or to the world or the universe. If you’re a person who never tries anything new, never speaks to anyone new, never pushes your boundaries or your understanding of the world – what insight do you really have?

As an example, the idea for my latest novel-turned-screenplay came while I was lying in bed after a boxing match, trying to make sense of why I lost a fight that I should have easily won. Getting into the ring to fight in front of a thousand people is something very much out of my comfort zone. But I do these things all the time, force myself out of that zone and into discomfort, which is where the magic happens.

But having the experience isn’t the end of the journey! The key is being able to take lessons and growth from all the scary things you push yourself to do.

Live. Reflect. Repeat.

That’s the key to being a better writer.

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