6 Things That Make Me A Better Writer

6 Things That Make Me A Better Writer

Do you write? Hi, me too, and many of That First Year’s readers moonlight (or daylight—power to those with the full-time writing gig!) as writers. So I thought it might be helpful to make a list of some things that have helped me in my writing endeavors.

// Books //

Bird by Bird—Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is a writing goddess and I am forever enthralled by her words—she intertwines sentiment and meaning and wry humor with such skill that one sentence alone can tear you up right before you laugh aloud.

Bird by Bird is her advice to writers—she encourages aspiring wordsmiths to write “shitty first drafts” and to just write already, word by word, bird by bird. It’s an excellent read, one that I went through fairly quickly and would like to re-read soon.

Get your copy here.

On Writing Well—William Zinsser

On Writing Well is a book that—you guessed it, you intuitive thing!—gives you pointers for writing well. This has been a much slower read for me, but not because it’s boring; Zinsser does a dope job in taking a relatively dry topic like grammar or writing structure and making it interesting and even humorous at times. His suggestions, like cutting out the fluff, have been helpful in my own writing, making me hyper-aware of some of my poor writing habits.

Get your copy here.

The Artist’s Way—Julia Cameron

The Artist’s Way is described as “the seminal book on the subject of creativity.” The book is formatted in sections meant to be read week to week, addressing our creative fears, blocks, misconceptions, and more. There are tasks assigned each week meant to reawaken our creativity; one of those tasks are the Morning Pages—pages you write as a brain dump every morning. As a writer, building this habit of Morning Pages has been tremendously helpful in not only developing discipline, but also making the blank page not seem so daunting. The Artist’s Way is meant to be a resource for any creative, not just writers.

Get your copy here.

// Supplies //


I have been a fan of the notebooks by Maydesigns for many years, and own nearly a dozen of them. They’re perfect to use for your Morning Pages, and there’s something refreshing about writing the good ‘ole fashioned way with actual pen and actual paper. Good news: notebooks and stationary are 50% off through Thursday, July 20! Stock up. (It will take everything in me not to spend way too much money on this notebook sale...)

Pilot Precise V5 RT Pens

This is not hyperbole: these Pilot pens are literally (LITERALLY!) the only pens I write with now. I discovered these pens at my previous job, and they are the pens of my dreams—writing in a thin, smooth gel line. To prove it’s not just me being dramatic over a pen, I let my co-worker use one last week, and she immediately went and bought a pack for herself that evening. True story.

// Courses //

Hannah Brencher’s Writing Courses

I treated myself to Hannah Brencher’s book writing course for my 24th birthday last October. Hannah is an author, speaker, and founder of The World Needs More Love Letters, an organization that spreads love by connecting strangers through the power of a written letter. Her book, If You Find This Letter, is well worth a read, especially for those of us navigating this new post-grad world.

The course was the encouragement I needed to get serious about tackling the bigger writing projects that I had been avoiding because of fear and self-doubt. So though I haven’t specifically taken the writing intensive courses, I’m confident that it would provide that same guidance and encouragement you might need in your own writing.

She is offering a summer writing intensive in August. For more information about the course, visit her website.

Tell us, what helps you become a better writer?

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