Know Yourself: Strengths and Weaknesses
If you want to become a better writer, you need to face up to some facts.
Let's be honest - even the best authors have weaknesses. Though you don't want to dwell on your challenging areas and would certainly rather focus on your strengths, the only way to improve is to tackle those matters with which you struggle head-on.
Of course, it's tough to be objective. That's why you need to get a second, third, and maybe even a fourth opinion on what your strong points and weak spots are, writing wise.
But where do you go to get the best feedback? Luckily, there are plenty of places from which to choose. Check out some mentioned below or devise methods of your own.
Trusted Family Members or FriendsDo you have a member of your family or a very close friend who enjoys reading or writing? Ask him or her to look over some of your recent (that's important) articles, scribblings, chapters, or essays.
After he or she has had the opportunity to look over them, discuss your writings together. Make sure you ask for critical feedback about specific points, such as "Were there's any places in these works where I 'lost' your attention?" and "Do you notice any consistent errors in my writing, such as wordiness or incorrect grammar?" Just be open to hearing whatever he or she has to say in response to your direct inquiries.
Other WritersAuthors are a good source of feedback and will usually be able to provide you with very specific feedback. They can also relate to your problems; perhaps they shared your weakness and were able to overcome it themselves.
You can find communities of writers online, and those folks are likely to give you some really solid and proven suggestions. Join a writers' board and reap the benefits. You may even want to "trade" this feedback service with another author who wants to know his or her weak areas, too; that way, you'll both be doing a favour for the other.
Your BlogIf you have a blog (and, let's face it - if you don't, you probably will soon in today's global economy), why not put a few of your clips online and ask for anonymous feedback?
Of course, you may receive some scathing remarks that aren't helpful at all (such as, "This is awful", which doesn't give you any useable information), but you're also likely to get some great pointers from persons reading your blog.
Your EditorsIf you have a good rapport with one or more editors with whom you frequently work, why not ask him or her for ways to help you become a better writer? Your editor will most likely give you very specific, meaningful ways to increase your writing acumen; after all, it will behoove him or her to do so because when you turn in future assignments fewer edits and rewrites will be required.
Writing GroupsSome community locations such as local colleges and libraries host groups of writers who meet on a regular basis. (And if there isn't a group, you could always start one.) Join one of these informal organisations to learn how to get better and improve your writing. One excellent benefit will be that you'll meet other amateur and professional authors who can assist you in finding more work.
By starting a dialogue about your weak spots with someone who will give you the real facts, you can begin to improve. Just make sure that you don't become defensive when you hear critiques; after all, by knowing your weak areas, you have a much better chance at turning them around.