Being consistent with your habits is the key to becoming a great writer. There are plenty of people out there who think of themselves as writers, but they spend months (or years) waiting for inspiration to strike, while never actually putting pen to paper. Like any other art form — music, painting, and filmmaking included — great writing requires lots of practice and dedication. While novelists and screenwriters are usually born with some innate talent, they don’t become successful without hard work. For students who aspire to become better writers, here are five practical strategies for improving your skills.

1. Don’t Censor Yourself:
You might think that people don’t want to hear your stories, but that unique perspective is precisely what separates you from other writers. Don’t try to write about subjects that you think people want to read, or what you think will be the most commercially viable. Remember, writing should be a personal endeavor — you’re trying to get at the heart of something, so you need to compose ideas without editing them in the moment. Later on, you can spend time mulling over details during the rewriting phase.

2. Write Often:
Writing for 20 minutes every week is a good start, but to become a great writer you’ll need to do it every day. That doesn’t mean you need to produce incredible art every time you have a writing session — you just have to put in the time and get a certain amount of words down. For successful writers, the word quota varies, but a good rule of thumb is around 1000 a day. If you have a busy schedule and the idea of writing 1000 words feels overwhelming, then at least set aside 20 minutes in between classes or work to have a consistent routine.

3. Try Journaling:
If you’re daunted by the prospect of writing fiction, a daily journal can be a great alternative. Some of you might’ve kept a diary in high school, chronicling crushes, friendships, and student gossip, but a journal can be as introspective or practical as you like.

4. Read for Inspiration:
The best way to learn writing is to emulate your favorite authors. Legends like Ernest Hemmingway would reverse-engineer the novels they loved by rewriting them on a typewriter. Successful writers are also voracious readers, soaking up the classics and more obscure works. If you want to become a greater writer, you’ll need to read just as much as you write.