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You’ve written a lot for a long time and have the mechanics mastered.
You jump “inside the book” to read the table of contents and credits and page through the free preview. Books have an uncanny power to teach us, to transport us, to move us light years beyond our ordinary lives. It means you regularly upgrade and fine-tune your skills.
If we could only find the books, the tried-and-true books written by trusted masters. And once in a while you find a writing book that speaks to your heart and gets to the core of what you’re struggling with right now. First, you need to cultivate a brutal, raw honesty.
Marvel at the perfectly placed and exquisitely balanced use of illusion, surprise and metaphor, and crave to imitate it.
Because if you don’t learn to appreciate the music and poetry in other writers’ work, you’ll never cultivate it in your own.
The change in your writing will be dramatic and permanent.
Once you’ve improved structure and approach, pick one or two mechanical fixes to work on as you rewrite and edit with your new eyes.
If you’ve been writing in a certain style or format for a while — such as blog posts — cross train in another genre.
(More on this later.) Study the structure of screenwriting, novel writing or poetry for six months or until it feels nearly second nature to shift into this new form.
A few weeks in a newsroom with a couple of crusty copyeditors exploded that attitude. Objectively, unemotionally and dispassionately analyzing your writing is one of the most valuable skills you can develop to further your writing opportunities.
And as a side benefit, you’ll also be able to handle scathing criticism from ruthless editors.