As 2016 winds down, our thoughts tend to become introspective, and I find myself musing about the past year. It was full of ups and downs, and I learned a lot about writing. Today I have 10 tips I’d like to share from my own personal experiences as I have gone from new writer to published author.
- Get started. Today. Now. Don’t wait. If you want to write, make sure you make it a regular part of your day. You don’t need special tools, a pencil and notebook work just fine. Or if you have access to a computer or laptop even better. There are a multitude of programs you can use and even a few free ones you can find on the internet that are open sourced. Even fifteen minutes a day is good… but if you truly love writing, you will probably look up and realize that no less than an hour has passed and you didn’t even notice.
- Read. Do a lot of reading of other authors work, from newly published Indie authors right down to the seasoned authors you love. Trust me, you will learn an incredible amount of information about writing from reading.
- Chapters don’t need to be written in order. If one is giving you trouble, write about something in the story that is on your mind. Start in the middle, or at the ending, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you are writing! If you are stuck on your story, write about something else. There are tons of sites that offer a daily writing prompt.
- Try not to edit while you are writing. Just let it flow and worry about the spelling and grammar errors once the thoughts are on the page. The wonderful thing these days if you happen to use any sort of word-processing program it is super easy to fix it all later. And I will admit I am guilty of thinking too hard about what I’m writing and tempted to edit as I go, but try to focus on the thoughts. I find it more productive to write first, edit later.
- Form a timeline. There are different styles of writing, from those who classify themselves as pantsters (as in writing by the seat of their pants with no planning) to the plotters (who have to have detailed notes). I find I fall somewhere in the happy middle, as I guess most writers will. I like to spend even fifteen minutes figuring out a rough timeline so I know when things are happening. Of course my novels tend to tell a story over the course of a year or so, so a timeline makes it easier to add details. If your story has a short time span maybe you won’t need or want one, but for me the timeline gives me a starting point and makes it easier to add descriptions… at least in my experience.
- Once the story is out on paper, it isn’t done. Nope, not even close. This is your first draft, and now comes the hard part… editing. I’m probably an anomaly, because I actually love editing. Why you ask? To me this is where the characters really come to life. I end up moving things around, adding details, more descriptions and fixing grammar and timeline issues. Some look at it as a chore, I look it as a vital part of the story telling process and you should plan on reading and editing your story multiple times before its ready.
- Don’t be shy to ask for feedback. Seek out other writers, find a writing buddy, or ask someone you know who will be honest with you. Writing is a process, very few writers can sit down and write a perfect novel without feedback from somewhere. Even those big name authors out there often have a sounding board. They have agents and editors and a team behind them. If you want to publish your work, or even if you want to improve your writing overall, you need a team of some sort. It can be frustrating and lonely to write, but having support of fellow writers makes it so much easier, especially for those first time writers.
- Be willing to accept constructive criticism of your work. Yes, there will always be a few trolls out there who only want to tear people down, but on the whole I have found readers to be a valuable resource as you edit and form your story. Most of them are wonderful and love a story well told. And yes, writing is for you, but if your goal is for people to read, it has to be for the readers too. And remember when you are writing, you know what you mean and your brain will make sense of it in the context you mean. However, it may not be clear to someone else, or maybe you’ve left loose ends in your story, maybe there are huge plot holes you aren’t seeing. Totally normal, it happens to everyone.
- Research and practice. Writing is an art form, and it takes practice and time to hone it and become a good writer, along with listening to constructive criticism, take the time to find answers to your questions. The power of Google is amazing, and the amount of free information from everything from grammar to other tips is stunning. Ask questions and be curious, many of the bloggers out there offering information are willing to answer questions.
- Never give up. Success as a writer is not guaranteed, and even if you write a fabulous and amazing book, expect that you will need to work at getting it noticed. Many get discouraged and give up too soon. Writing takes time and effort, from the moment you first sit down with that pencil to the point where you reach your goal as a writer. However, it is truly rewarding in many ways, and if it is something you love doing, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Keep at it, keep learning, keep writing.
Thanks for reading, and I hope these small tips have been helpful. I will be starting up my regular tip blog in January 2017, so please, subscribe to my blog to be updated on my posts.
I also love to hear from readers, so feel free to say hi, or ask questions. Have an amazing day, and I wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year as we venture into 2017.