All writers – authors, bloggers, journalists, screenwriters – have writing tips that help them. I feel these twelve are essential for all writers.
It may seem obvious that writing is the best way to improve your craft, but without deadlines, it’s easy to slip into the habit of not writing. I’ve recently picked up an old habit of handwriting something, however short, in a notebook each day. Most days it’s not the only writing I do, but some days it is, and that very act keeps me in touch with who I am – a writer!
Read anything and everything you can find the time to put your hands on. Listen to books or articles if it’s not possible to read. Reading is the second best thing you can do to learn how to write well. Check out my post on #Authors, an Infinite Resource. which shows how we have an endless resource from the world of books and authors in print.
3. Explore the World Around You
Inspiration can come in many forms, but most characters whether in fiction or non-fiction are based on real people, however larger than life we end up making them. So sit in a cafe and eavesdrop. Public transportation is a perfect way to overhear what people say, and if you’re lucky you might glean a few different accents too.
4. Embrace the First Shitty Draft
I love the phrase “First Shitty Draft” and first heard it from Catherine Smith , my tutor during my initial semester at my Creative Writing Certificate course at the University of Sussex, UK. It’s such an appropriate phrase and an essential part of the process. Just write the thing down before you do more than a cursory edit, otherwise you’ll slow the process and potentially lose your train of thought & interrupt the creative flow.
5. DON’T Share Your Work in Progress with….
…friends and family. Generally speaking , and there are always exceptions, I think it’s a bad idea. They are not going to give you impartial advice and if you’re unlucky may even become a negative influence on your self confidence.
6. DO Share Your Work in Progress with ….
… other writers. There’s a point where we need to write alone, and not be interrupted by other peoples views of what we’ve written. But after a certain point, it is good to get feedback from other writers you trust, and who’s opinion you value. These impromptu editors will be more and less skilled in the ability to critique. Jeri Walker -Bickett wrote a great post about The Necessity of Critique Groups which I recommend you check out. You will find at the very least a camaraderie about the process you are going through, and most likely the fresh eye your work needs.
7. Be Passionate about Your Work
If you’re not passionate about your subject matter it will show in your work. And for a novelist, it will be an unbearable long slog to get the book finished. So choose your subjects carefully if it’s anything but a short article.
Writing is a usually a sedentary practice, and makes it even more more important for writers to get physical exercise. Murakami wrote a great book called What I Talk about When I Talk about Running, which is mainly an insight into his writing habits. But exercise does a body good in many ways, not only your heart and lungs etc, but your brain, as well. Who knows what you might see on your morning walk? The other morning I saw a snake!
9. Don’t Give Up
It’s hard to finish projects sometimes – any projects actually. Garages across the world are a testament to unfinished projects. But it’s even easier with writing to say it’s not good enough or I’m bored, or it’s too hard, or whatever. Sound familiar? The world is full of people who have lots of great ideas, and lots of half finished manuscripts, short stories and articles stuck in a drawer or file gathering dust on their computer. Do you want to be one of them, or do you want to put your work out in the world? If so, don’t give up.
10. Write New Creative Work During the Revision Process
If you’re a writer, you’re going to spend a lot of time revising or editing. After all “All writing is re-writing”. But if you’re a novelist you may spend years in the revision process. I think it’s important to write new creative work even during your big edit. It’s realistic if you stick with a short work – flash fiction, or a short story. It’s a very different skill set to edit than to write new work, so don’t get too out of practice with the latter.
11. Don’t Become an Isolated Writer
I feel it’s essential to seek out other writers, not only to help with critiques, but also to not feel isolated. Find other writers where you live if possible and talk about your work, or problems that might arise because of it. Social Media is also a great place to meet other writers and I’ve made good writer friends through a variety of online groups. It’s another way of being out in the world, and hearing new voices, opening yourself up to new information and experiences.
12. Learn to Accept Criticism
This is absolutely essential for any writer who wants to have their work published. Not only as I mentioned, will you get constructive criticism from your critique buddies, but you will also -hopefully – get feedback from your readers, and not all of it will be positive. So develop a thick skin early on in the process. I was surprised how unnerving I found blogging when I first started, as it puts your opinions out into the world. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had a lot of support from other bloggers. But I’ve made mistakes, and had a bunch of rejection letters from prospective agents for my novels too. You just do the best you can, change the work as necessary, and realise people will have different opinions to yours, which only makes life more interesting.
Believe in yourself. Isn’t that the most important thing of all that will help you continue your life as a writer? ~ A.K. Andrew
What writing tips do you use? What good one’s do you have that I’ve not listed? What have you found the best or most difficult aspect of being a writer?
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