How Many of These 12 Essential #Writing Tips Do You Use?

All writers – authors, bloggers, journalists, screenwriters – have writing tips that help them.  I feel these twelve are essential for all writers.

1. Write

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!

2. Read

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.

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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.

8. Exercise

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.

A.K. Andrew,, writing tips

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? 

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

Many Thanks!

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  1. Inspirational, AK!! Thank you. At my desk now and about to get started.

  2. Great list, AK! I am so glad you included exercise! So many people leave it off. Exercise is important not only to get the blood circulating back in one’s butt, but it can also be an opportunity to process your current WIP or generate an new writing topic. In an interview, Joyce Carol Oates said that she edited her writing while running. Often times, if I’m stuck in my writing, going for a long walk helps clear my head. Sometimes I’ll think up a solution for the problem at hand, but most times I’ll get distracted by the flight of a young hawk or a Great Blue Heron wading in a nearby pond. Those distractions are priceless because they ground me in what is real and now. When you spend most of your waking hours living in your head, a touch of nature and wildlife can be uplifting.
    Marie Ann Bailey recently posted..Why I Give Blood #MondayBlogsMy Profile

    • I am totally with you on this one Marie. In fact it’s probably the most important one- in general terms i.e. Getting inspiration away from ones desk, than all of the others. And yet it’s hard to sometimes break out of the routine of grinding away. That’s alsp inspiring to hear that Carol Joyce Oates- one of my favorite authors- edits while she runs. Sounds perfect. After my commenting burst, I must go look at the birds!! Thank you so much for your insightful comment:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..Rebecca Whitney: The Liar’s Chair & Traditional PublishingMy Profile

  3. Great list A.K. Happily, I can say I use all of them – but have to admit that number 12 is always uncomfortable. 🙂
    D.G. Kaye recently posted..Do you Want to Start #Writing Like #Steinbeck?My Profile

  4. Excellent suggestions! I’m printing them and posting them on my desk in front of me. The reading one is the most interesting…I am such a voracious reader and often, when blocked, it reading a beautiful narrative that will start my stalled creative engine. But I cannot tell you how many people I have met that tell me that they want to write a book, but when questioned, reveal that they don’t read! Maybe not even read a book since they left school! Crazy!
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted..Rules… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • I’m so flattered you would print them up Jacquie!! Totally made my day:-). I think reading is a really key one & I take this from personal experience as a painter as much as with my writing. So often I’d go see an exhibition & feel compelled to paint something as a direct result of the show. What a wonderful world people are missing who don’t read.
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..Rebecca Whitney: The Liar’s Chair & Traditional PublishingMy Profile

  5. I love all these ideas A.K. I used to read a lot more, when I didn’t write so much. I think it started in 2013 when I was writing my then current book. So #2 serves to remind me! I never heard of the #4 in these 12 essential writing tips and I will definitely start using it. At least I do always (regularly!) exercise. I break every 25 minutes and head to the kitchen, my furthest in house walk. And at least 5 days a week I add exercise to my morning routine. For me most of them are constantly improving and I am grateful for my experience in writing for a publisher. It allowed me to speed up the learning in your #12! Great list A.K. – thanks so much.
    Patricia Weber recently posted..Is Sitting Down Too Much an Invitation for Chronic Conditions and Disease?My Profile

    • How fabulous Pat to have had the privilege of working with a publisher. I think it’s easier to accept criticism when you trust the person who is giving it to you. In fact it’s important to be selective in who you let steer you in the ‘right’ direction. I love the image of everyone who has read this post spending their walking time editing their work! Thanks so much for the comment:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..Rebecca Whitney: The Liar’s Chair & Traditional PublishingMy Profile

  6. I probably have broken all the above rules except compulsive writing. But I’m trying to reform myself, really! Thanks for the reminder to get focused…
    Jan recently posted..The Demise of DickeyMy Profile

  7. I’m still working on embracing the shitty first draft, but since I’m not working on anything creative right now… Exercise matters so much. I used to be really bad about staying glued to my chair even when I was stuck. I stubbornly soldiered on until I finished and it wouldn’t be halfway inspired at all. Now if I’m stuck, I know better and will get up and so some other task for awhile. Thanks for the mention of my critique post too 🙂
    Jeri recently posted..#WriteTip: How to Write a Book Press ReleaseMy Profile

    • Yes the first shitty draft is a a big learning curve & one I too feel I could improve on. Writing short stories has been liberating on that front for me recently as its much easier to experiment on a smaller scale. I’m also better now at taking breaks or moving on when the ‘moment’ has past. A thin line indeed between pressing on & working through the problem and knowing when to start afresh later on. You’re very welcome on the mention Jeri. Thanks so much for your comment:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..Rebecca Whitney: The Liar’s Chair & Traditional PublishingMy Profile

  8. One other thing I would add is to know when to move on. Sometimes you get stuck writing, rewriting and just in general pursuing perfection, but you may really only be spinning your wheels. Sometimes you have to let it go.
    Ken Dowell recently posted..The 1890 Travel Blogger: Grand Tour of AmericaMy Profile

  9. Great list and great advice for keeping focused and avoiding discouragement.

  10. Really like these writing tips A.K. particularly the advice to develop a thick skin. You need this if you fail to follow your advice and run your draft by friends and relatives instead of other writers. Lol. I agree, other writers are much more supportive and provide constructive feedback.
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Luna Vineyards Pinot Grigio: #WineMy Profile

  11. I like the first shitty draft one. I am not writing a book but in my blog my first time at at new post I just let go – write whatever comes to mind, quite often not even in order. Once that’s done I start to make sense of it all and I do a lot of revisions.
    I also like the one about reading. Both my husband and I read at every opportunity and always have a book on the go. I can’t imagine how you could think to become a writer without first being a reader.
    Lenie recently posted..Frugal GardeningMy Profile

  12. Thank you for this wonderful post. Your comments and advice are knowledge I am always trying to gather about this trade..
    William Rusho recently posted..Illustrations, you created them; NOW WHAT?My Profile

  13. Excellent tips and I do my best to follow each and every one of them. I especially like “write” and to be honest I do not believe in Writer’s Block. Last year I did a lot of research to compile a book of quotations on the business of being a writer because I didn’t want to just use the same old quotes passed around again and again on the Internet.

    One trait I found among most notable “professional” authors is they treat their writing as a habit – whether they feel like it or not – they write every single day. Personally the only time I struggle to write is when I’ve skipped a few days – knowing all too well I’m going to pay the price when I sit down to write again. Thanks for the inspiration A.K.!
    Marquita Herald recently posted..Women’s Day: Let’s Make It Happen!My Profile

    • Thanks so much for your insightful comment Marquita. Writing is really like any other muscle- use it or lose it. I don’t completely agree with you about writers block, but certainly one way to keep it going is to stop writing altogether . After a break it may take a while to get going again but you will for sure. And you really can’t always wait until you ‘feel like it’ I think that is often the problem when people say they are not inspired. It’s a rare person who is teeming with ideas before your pen hits the paper.
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..Rebecca Whitney: The Liar’s Chair & Traditional PublishingMy Profile

  14. Love your suggestions, AK. Not least since I do use all your writing tips:-)
    Catarina recently posted..What do you know about economic growth in Nigeria?My Profile

  15. Love the list A.K. Thanks for sharing. I have used all of the above when writing. They are each helpful in their own way.
    Shawn Griffith recently posted..Never Settle For LessMy Profile

  16. Re your first two tips:

    1. Write
    Let’s see a show of hands of all those who kept a diary or journal in their younger years! (My hand is raised, is yours, A.K.?) In my ideal world, all parents would encourage their children to launch a diary/journal.

    2. Read
    I certainly agree with you about the benefit of reading widely; however, for those who could use help with the basic mechanics of writing, a very good *starting point* is to regularly read a large-metropolitan newspaper (e.g., the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune).
    Andy recently posted..Real to IrrealMy Profile

    • Both points you raise are good ones. I did keep a diary but it was very basic stuff. I think children could benefit by a journal being more complex, though social media has somewhat taken its place. None the less. pen to paper has no comparison. As to reading newspapers, many people read the news online these days which also contributes to flipping through. I wonder if a magazine of a particular interest, which also includes articles might also be of benefit. Thanks so much for your comment!
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..How Many of These 12 Essential #Writing Tips Do You Use?My Profile

  17. All your tips are relevant tips. Although I am not an author – sometimes I find it very difficult to get motivated to finish writing the recipe. That’s when I read other blogs and get the inspiration to finish the recipe I have created.
    Mina Joshi recently posted..Pineapple, Oranges and Chili Dip with a hint of gingerMy Profile

  18. I love the one “Don’t give up”. Quite frankly, if you are the type of person who gives up when they hit a snag, you shouldn’t take on a big writing project. You will always hit a bump in the road. Often it is one that can be frustrating at times to get over. Great writers stay with it and often surprise themselves with how they get through it. I also like “Embrace your shitty first draft. I’m totally gonna quote you on that! Too funny, but also true.
    Erica recently posted..Natural Insomnia Relief For The Most Decadent Sleep EverMy Profile

    • I think when even the most motivated person is writing a novel, they are going to hit a midway lull – or even a beginning lull!! but people feel they have a novel in them and really if you don’t try, you’ll never know how much you can persevere or not. At the worst, you may end up with a really good 5-10,000w story. Feel free to use First Shitty Draft. I wish I’d thought of it first, but unfortunately I didn’t. Thank you so much for your comment:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..How Many of These 12 Essential #Writing Tips Do You Use?My Profile

  19. I really love this post! Empowering and inspirational…wow! Your tips were easy to follow and encouraging enough to let me continue the passion to share it to the world…even it”s the first shitty draft. Yay!
    Mahal Hudson recently posted..Is this YOU?!My Profile

  20. I was going to write back and say that 4, 5, 8, and 9 resonate with me but after thinking about it I am convinced of them all. Exercise is a must; kind of a foundation block. Don’t show family and friends till your finished; absolutely and for no other reason than the glaringly obvious. I really liked the confirmation this article gave me. Thanks AK.
    Tim recently posted..A Double Decker LifeMy Profile

  21. I love all your tips! Personally I don’t use #5 because although I agree with it for most of my family and friends, I run things by my husband who always gives me thoughtful and helpful opinions. Maybe this works because he’s not the husband I married when I was 19! I definitely agree with exercising and writing other things during the process. Great post!
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted..How to Get 501 LinkedIn ConnectionsMy Profile

    • I think that it’s different for different people, and perhaps your husband is also your target audience. I find my partner is, but I don’t ask for in depth critiques, and I don’t show her anything until it’s been edited to a finished point. I think if you value his opinion then that’s working for you. Thanks so much for stopping by Beth. Much appreciated:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..How Many of These 12 Essential #Writing Tips Do You Use?My Profile

  22. These are all great tips. The best one is to never give up.
    Cheryl recently posted..Where in the World is Geek Grandma?My Profile

  23. There are all great tips, proving that there is no single path to being a successful or productive writer. We each need to find what works for us and to find mentors to help move us forward in our writing goals. The biggest tip I can offer is to force yourself to network, even if it is against your nature. So many writers tend to be introverts, and excuse themselves from human interaction unless necessary.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..the importance of a good night’s sleepMy Profile

  24. I continue to need to work on the exercise bit. We got a little lazy this winter.
    Jon Jefferson recently posted..Don’t Touch that DialMy Profile

  25. oh wow! You’re right, our posts are eerily similar! You have some I didn’t have, though, and I like them very much. Like not sharing your WIP with non-writers and also exercise. < yes. so important. Also, embrace that first shitty draft!
    Beth Teliho recently posted..Innards, the other white meat. That makes no sense. Just roll with it.My Profile


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