Like any art form, writing improves with time and practice. However, one secret to great writing is how you spend the time you’re not practicing.
It’s easy—and fun—to make wordplay part of each day. All it takes is the willingness to sing along.
Read Reader’s Digest
Everyone’s favorite general-interest bathroom reader was first published in 1922! Almost a century later, it remains the gold standard for good storytelling.
Try tackling a feature article on your next bio break. Note the use of tight sentences, simple words and impactful punctuation, all designed to draw you in.
See how the narrative speeds along.
And concludes before the reader moves on.
Pro tip: They practically give this thing away—$15 for 2 years. (75 cents an issue!) Subscribe here.
Memorize Rap Music
You might be a little country, or all rock 'n' roll, but everyone busts a line from time to time.
Feel your flow and commit a few mixtapes to memory. Rap, after all, is simply storytelling set to a sick beat.
Rhyme and repetition train your brain to choose from a wider selection of words—you’ll be amazed by your Dr. Seuss-like ability to write with agility.
Pro tip: If you have children, put your newfound talent to use to thoroughly impress—or embarrass—them as circumstances warrant.
Binge on Documentaries
All zombied-out? Not up for reliving nine seasons of a sitcom you’ve already seen? Spend that hour before bed with a documentary instead.
In fact, Netflix can be a wellspring for aspiring wordsmiths. From science to history to culture, you’ll find hundreds of educational specials to pick from.
What these programs have in common is the challenge of packing enormous detail into 45 minutes. Focus your attention on the narrator from start to finish—how they set the stage, introduce ideas, tease the audience along and tie everything together with a common thread.
You’ll learn a lot, too.
Pro tip: Watch with closed captioning ON to “see” what good storytelling looks likes.
Ultimately, the words we write are the same ones we read, sing and consume every day. Surround yourself with inspiration to awaken the author inside.
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Related post: Reading This Will Make You a Better Writer