It’s always fun to see what other writers think about writing. Meg and Donna both shared some great ideas over the last few days, so be sure to read what they had to say. And now, here are my 10 tips for writing:
1. If you want to be good at writing, you have to practice. You have to write. Studying is good, but ultimately, words on the paper are the best teacher.
2. That’s not to say you shouldn’t study. Actually, if you want to be good at a certain writing skill (like metaphors, or description, or action, or sex scenes, or whatever else), then find some authors who do it well and dissect what they do. Treat it like an assignment. What words do those authors use? How do they transition from one moment to the next? How long are their sentences? What details do they focus on? Figuring out what they did that works will teach you how to do it too.
3. If you want to be an effective writer, then you need the feedback of readers. And I mean readers, not writers. Writers are helpful with critiques, but really, they’re in analysis mode. Readers, though… They may not know why something works or doesn’t work, but they can sure tell you when they lost interest in a scene or when you did something with a character that made them check out. You need to know what they think, because they’re the ones who buy your stuff and recommend it, OR who put your stuff down frustrated and never buy from you again.
4. Everyone wants to write a book. Everyone. If you want to be a person who actually writes a book, though, you’ve got to make time to do it, be committed, and see it through. Do whatever you have to do to finish what you start. Because if you don’t, you haven’t written a book.
5. I don’t care how good a writer you are; you will always have to edit your work. No one ever gets it right the first time. The second time, maybe, if you’re really experienced. Maybe the third time. But not the first. Everything needs editing. EVERYTHING!
6. Not everyone is going to support you. And some will say they’re being supportive while also trying to distract you or drain you. Most people mean well. But you still have to draw lines so you can get your writing done.
7. Everyone’s got a different style and approach to getting their words on paper. Experiment until you figure out what works for you. And then do it.
8. Writing fiction and writing non-fiction are NOT the same. I write copy all day long at my day job – emails, ads, information and promotions and so on. But writing a novel is totally different. So if you’re trying to write a different style or genre than you usually do, expect it to be hard and expect it to take time.
9. Enjoy the process. I know that’s not always easy, because writing is work. But if you’re not happy doing it, something’s wrong. Figure out what’s wrong and fix it. With all the time and effort you put into writing, enjoying yourself is important.
10. Finish what you start. I’m bad at this, but getting better. Because to be a successful writer, you’ve got to finish your piece and get it out there somehow. Submit it. Share it with a friend. Have a little ceremony with your journal. Whatever it is you do. But finish and then start something new. If you never let go of what you’re working on now, you’ll never start (or finish) the next piece of writing.