Do Writers Need Other Skills to Go Alongside Their Writing?
For those who wish to write, either in an amateur capacity or professionally, it’s not always as simple as having a way with words. While a natural flair for language—for its rhythms and rules, its sounds and its synonyms—is invaluable, it’s not enough in isolation.
In fact, there are many other skills that complement an affinity for the written word. While they may not be necessary for those who create prose purely for pleasure, they’re nonetheless useful for writers who wish to hone and refine their craft. Take, for example, Eudora Welty, who was not only a revered Southern writer but also a great photographer.
Here are some of the most invaluable skills a writer can possess.
Must one be a talented artist to create beautiful and moving prose? While the answer is clearly “no,” it can still be useful to add this string to your bow. That’s because the two work well together, especially if you’d like illustrations to go alongside your writing. Though it’s possible to get other people to draw these for you, doing so costs, and no one else can bring your vision to life as adeptly as the person who created it.
There are numerous examples of famous authors who’ve been skilled at both writing and drawing, including Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Sylvia Plath and William Blake, while Tennessee Williams was a keen painter in his later life.
For those who wish to acquire such talents, you might want to consider honing your drawing skills via lessons with a private tutor. Sessions usually cost around $14, making them reasonably inexpensive as hobbies go. They can help to improve your work and give you a greater understanding of the methodologies and techniques needed to become proficient.
While drawing isn’t fundamental to becoming a successful writer, amateur or professional, basic researching abilities are. In order to tell a story or write an informed and intelligent piece, you must first have a basic understanding of what you’re writing about.
This means knowing how and where to find appropriate information, which is why we suggest spending some time refining your skill in this area. A useful exercise is to pick a particular topic or time period and see how much you can teach yourself about it in the space of an hour. Once your 60 minutes are up, try writing a piece—fictional or otherwise—set in this era or centered around this subject.
This will come in infinitely handy for later world-building and/or article writing.
Like being skilled at researching, well-honed observational skills are a must for writers. The pieces you create should seem authentic, whether you’re creating a fictional world like William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha or writing an opinion piece for a hobbyist newspaper.
This is down to two reasons. First, observation will help you to relay what you’d like your audience to see. If you can capture the world as you view it—real or not—you can transmit these images to your reader through the power of your words.
Second, observing the way people behave, speak and react to certain scenarios means you can create characters and story arcs that resonate with your readers. The best tool for making these authentic is to base them in reality; to draw from the world around you.
So, how do you improve your observational skills? It’s simple: take to carrying a notebook around with you. Each day, jot down three observations, whether these relate to the color of the sky, a conversation you overhear or the sounds of your daily commute. Then incorporate these into a practice piece of writing. The more you observe, the easier it is to capture and conjure the sounds and images you wish to convey to the reader.
Are you a fledgling writer looking to hone your craft? Then take our advice to improve your literary attempts today.