It’s not enough to just write sometimes, you have to push yourself in new and challenging ways to get better at what you do.
Carry a notebook with you everywhere and actually use it. Not only should you have one to write down sudden inspirations (and not have to rely on a dirty cafe napkin) but also to record observations. Pay attention to what people eat, how they dress, which words they use in conversation. Details give life to your writing, so you want to collect as many as possible. If you don’t want to use plain, boring paper pads, there are other options! You can buy a recorder or download free apps like Evernote or Celtx, which saves all your work online and syncs between your devices. You could write scripts on your iPhone!
Read over old notes if you need a bolt of inspiration, especially from previous brainstorming and freewriting sessions. You may find something you didn’t see before. It’s easy to forget good ideas if you never think about them after you put them on paper. You may discover old characters or plotlines that you’d forgotten.
Free write better by thinking outside the box. Have you ever tried “free writing” only to end up with a bunch of gibberish you can’t use in your story? Or even worse: just stared blankly at the page? Pretend you're writing a dream. This is more akin to “stream-of-consciousness” writing and is better for brainstorming. The dream world doesn't have to make sense and you can switch between ideas, characters, and settings at will. Explore large, abstract ideas or focus on specific details.
Step into the shoes of your characters. Beyond just creating a backstory for them, create a journal. Imagine what a few days in the life of your character would be like from their perspective. This technique can help round out and evolve your characters. [Taking an online Character Development course with The Indie Screenwriters you will learn more exercises that will bring your characters to life.]
Adapt your storyto a new form or setting. If you're writing a novel, write a scene or two as a stage play. Or write your character’s story as if they lived a hundred years in the future. You can also take another popular story and adapt it into a movie or TV series! [The Indie Screenwriters is currently developing curriculum for an Adaptation course that will teach you how to do this!]
Don’t edit yourself too muchin the first draft. Get your ideas down on paper as soon as you can. Don’t fret too much about grammar and flowery language the first time around. You don’t want to get stuck trying to find the perfect words to describe a sunset when you could be moving the story along. You can always come back to it later.
Read more. Not only can you read for pleasure or research, but you can also use it to study how other authors write. How do they structure their stories and develop their characters? Reading screenplays will give you insight into what details are important and how to move the story along. Whatever genre you want to write, you should read as much of it as possible.
Take a creative writing class. The Internet has made online classes readily available in every subject to fit any schedule. Structured curriculum is more goal-oriented than self-study and so it produces better results.