While there is a proven formula to ensure your writing improves and your skills increase, it’s rather vague and requires a lot of work that many are unwilling to put in. The formula is one that is known to every serious novelist and writer who aspires to create and tell stories for a living and when “wannabe” writers receive this advice, they brush it off, disregard it, and their awful prose rarely improves. Given enough time, these wannabes will likely stop writing altogether while still walking around with their nose in the air but not have a single finished project under their belt.
The formula is this: you must read voraciously and write every day. If this means turning off the TV, disconnecting from the internet, and reading a paperback to learn story arc and character development, that’s what it takes. Some have the discipline to do these things without completely disconnecting but many do not. Discipline is probably the most important attribute for any writer. The discipline to read and write every day is essential to going anywhere with it. Other attributes can be the difference between good and great, but all need to have discipline.
Some have such an issue with discipline that despite being able to purchase a $150 Chromebook and write on Google Docs (which saves as you go, btw), people will actually purchase a fancy typewriter for $500 that only acts as a word processor and cannot do anything else except for share files to another computer. When people cannot discipline themselves, they rely on their tools to create that shadow of discipline for them. Whatever gets the job done, I guess, but that extra $350 could’ve been spent on a writing workshop on plot development. Another alternative is to simply use Microsoft Word and disconnect your internet in the bottom right corner, but I digress.
Maintaining a steady diet of reading and writing is the only way to get better at writing. You need to see how other authors have formed their stories and develop them. You also need to learn by experience and write for yourself. Nothing is more valuable than hands-on experience. I’ve learned people can have college degrees in a subject but have no idea how to actually put what they’ve learned into practice. That’s why you need to write. You need to be in the field or, in this case, your chair, slamming away at the keys. You need to learn by doing. Classes and workshops are great but they mean nothing if you don’t get out there and put words on the page.
Many hate hearing this. They want the secret formula to becoming the next great author or the next great playwright. Even when those great authors tell you the only way to improve is to do, people disregard it or don’t follow through. You can’t be upset with the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do.