I’ve received lots of great advice on writing and how to start and continue my writing career, and I’ve been asked by many writers who are just starting out what I would give as my best piece or two of advice. I thought I would add my top 10 bits to the blog today.
1) Write – just sit down and start. You can edit a bad piece of writing, but you can’t edit a blank page. Try to write every day, even if it is only for a few minutes. The more you write the better you get.
2) Try different ways of writing. If you think you need to outline first do it, if you think you need to just sit and write without an outline, go for it. If you think you need to do a bullet point list of things to keep you on track, then do that. What works for one writer may not work for the next. I, myself, am more of a bullet point outliner. I will throw some ideas down in bullet point form and then sit and start to write, adding to my list and taking off as the story moves along and the new ideas hit me. Try using your computer or using pen and paper.
Different places to write sometimes works too. Some days I am at my desk in my office, other days I use a laptop desk in the living room, or in the summer months I can be found in my gazebo on my back deck. I can even be found from time to time in a coffee shop. Whatever works best for you.
3) Find a good mentor, or writing group on-line or in person to join. A critique partner is also a great idea. Every writer needs someone to bounce ideas off or to give them reason when they are having one of “those days”. Just having someone to talk to who understands the writer’s life is amazing.
4) Read. Read. Read. Read the genre you want to write and other genres too. When you find great stories, have a second look at them to see what made them resonate with you and then try to do that in your work. Not copy or plagiarize, but see how they did something and use their method in your work.
5) Find a few good books on writing. I don’t have any strong recommendations as there are many really good ones out there. And, like the way we write, the books I found fantastic may not make sense to you. I have some in my bookcase that I use over and over and some that I never finished reading, or read through and thought nope, not for me.
6) Figure out the kind of stories you want to write. This may take some trial and error. Doing some soul searching to find out who you are and what you are comfortable writing about is also helpful. Just because you love to read one genre, does not mean that is the genre you may like to, or want to write in. You have to find this out for yourself, no one can tell you what type of stories you should be writing.
I believe in writing the stories that are in your heart.
Some authors believe you will not make any money if you do this. They feel you need to write to the market. That works for a lot of people, I’m not one of them. Believe me I’ve tried! If I write the stories that speak to me then I’m more passionate with my words and it shows. Not only does the story flow on to the page better for me and faster, but there is less editing required.
7) Keep learning. Writers are lifelong learners. I’m always buying new books on craft, reading articles on-line, following on-line gurus, taking courses, etc.
8) Find an editor who understands your stories. When they return your story full of red marks, read their edits, then walk away for a day. When you return, you will understand they are trying to help you make your story better not trying to rewrite your story or tear your writing apart. A good editor is worth every cent you pay them to edit your work.
9) Have an ideas book, a place to write down ideas or tidbits of information you may want to write about someday. Use it to capture facial expressions you see people use, snippets of conversation that are interesting, sky colors, outfits, hair color, anything really. Some people suggest you carry a little notebook in your pocket or purse. You never know when an idea will strike or you may want to capture a thought. Even random things may come in handy someday.
10) Believe in yourself. Take a deep breath and swallow all the fears you have. This is probably the hardest piece of advice to follow. Most writers have these same fears even once they’ve publish many stories.
You can do this! There will always be people who do not like your style of writing. Not everyone will love your stories as much as you do. Many of today’s top authors have people who do not like their work. Be respectful to your reviewers and never get in a battle with them. We all have our own opinions about everything.