Gaining experience is fairly straightforward of course. Write often, write passionately, write on any topic you find interesting. Simple hey - Not really! Nearly all the writers I know struggle with self-discipline. We all have millions of great ideas but battle to write them to completion. There is no substitute for just getting down & writing something everyday. A friend & former leader of a writing group I belong to lists the magic formula as “Bum in seat, pen in hand, write.” Simple yet profound. Another online writing group moderator I respect once said to us, “If you want to write well, well write!”
I read an interesting point of view the other day. “Writer's block is usually the result of trapping your characters in a dead end.” (Simon Hayes). I’ve always thought that the major reason for writer’s block is a lack of ideas, but this quote got me thinking. Maybe a lack of skills or planning also contributes. If you write a character or plot into a corner it is very disheartening & can lead you to stop writing for a bit. I’ve found lately that reading up & learning some new skills, specifically in the area of developing good plots & characters, has helped me to finish stories more easily.
All of which brings me (finally!!) to my point. One of the best ways to improve your craft is to practice it. The time spent in practice will be more productive if you write with more skill. Fortunately the gaining of skills doesn’t have to be a costly or full time affair, not all of us are able to go to college / university to study the art of writing.
There is a lot of useful advice available online from established & successful writers in the form of articles & newsletters. I’ve learnt a lot from these sources & would really recommend it to any writer as a cheap & easy way to gain some new skills.
Obviously you have to have some basic talent & a passion for the craft to start with, but any writer can benefit from the wisdom of others. There are many writers out there who have websites with lots of free writing tools & advice. Two of my favourites are:
Simon Hayes: http://www.spacejock.com.au/
Randy Ingermanson: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/