In this blog, we explore ten tips for writers to help you on your writing journey to becoming an author.
Tips for writers
1. Read, read, read
Reading is a powerful tool for writers. It can help on all levels, from increasing knowledge of genre and vocabulary to improving concentration and enhancing the imagination. The key is to not always read the books you know you’ll like. Exploring new authors and genres will help you discover your own style and voice.
2. Observe the world
All writing is, to some extent, based on reality. Even fantasy writers draw upon aspects of the real world to inspire their fantasy realms. The world around us is a fascinating place and writers can learn a lot from it. All too often, writers sit in one place, trying to think of ideas. Get out into the world – explore unknown places, analyse human behaviour, try new experiences. Only through observing the world at close quarters can you create truly convincing stories.
Observe the world
3. Create a schedule
Many new writers struggle to complete their first manuscript because they don’t stick to a schedule. One day they might write 100 words, the next day 1,000. Erratic writing habits make it difficult to reach the finish line because there is a lack of structure. Creating a schedule to write or edit a fixed number of words per day – be that 50 or 3,000 – will foster a sense of purpose. Developing a writing pattern makes it much easier to reach your goals.
4. Write and don’t look back
Another significant reason writers struggle to finish their manuscripts is the constant need to review previously completed work. The temptation to re-read work often causes writers to start the draft again. While reading back to familiarise yourself with work from the previous day is acceptable, reviewing work from the start fosters unhealthy critiquing. Very few writers like their first drafts – the more you critique and the more you rewrite, the harder it will be to get to the end. To avoid this, try not to look back. Just keep writing until you finish and then you can review, make notes, and begin draft two.
Don't look back
5. Writer’s block
Writer’s block can be divided into two sections – the blocks that come before you’ve even started writing and those that come once you’ve begun. Many writers sit stewing over blank pages or going mad over a single sentence for hours at a time. Writer’s block is only a thing if you make it so. Instead of trying to come up with the perfect idea, just write down something – anything to get yourself started. If you’re struggling with an idea, leave a section blank and return to it later. If you can’t work out a sentence – walk away. You’ll come up with a solution eventually.
As all writers know, being a writer isn’t easy. There will be days when you want to give up and times when you’ll think ‘Is there any point in this?’ Or ‘I can’t look at this page anymore!’ While it’s fine to feel downhearted and to need a break sometimes, being a writer is all about perseverance. Only you can make yourself keep going. If you can persevere in the face of writer's block, self-doubt and rejection, you will eventually succeed in achieving your goals.
7. Hold the vision
Perseverance and visualisation go hand in hand. Where perseverance involves physical and mental steadfastness, visualisation is all about you forming and maintaining a mental image of what you want to achieve. If you’re constantly telling yourself, ‘I’ll probably finish this book,’ or ‘I might try to get it published’, you’re providing yourself with vague targets. If instead, you visualise yourself finishing the book or already published, it will help you to maintain a positive mindset.
8. Remove useless words
This tip might seem irrelevant here but it is extremely important. Before you self-publish or submit your book, it already needs to be of a high standard. One of the easiest ways to edit your own writing is by removing useless words. It is commonly advised to remove as many adjectives as possible and to avoid using vague terms like ‘then’ and ‘very’. ‘Very’ especially is a word that rarely adds any meaning to your work. You’ll be surprised at how often you use it in a first draft.
Believe in yourself
9. Ask friends and family for feedback
Feedback is essential whether you’re submitting to an agent or self-publishing. You may think that you’ve gone over your book one hundred times and it’s already perfect, but you’ll be amazed at how differently other people will interpret your words. Your friends and family may not be trained editors, but they can tell you if your ideas are consistent and whether they’ve enjoyed your work. Try to find readers who belong to your target audience as well – their feedback will be invaluable.
10. Believe in yourself and your work
Few writers look at their work, published or otherwise, and think it’s perfect. Self-doubt is the devil on most writer’s shoulders and it's important to know how to deal with it. While self-doubt can’t easily be banished forever, you can learn to manage it. When you find yourself thinking ‘This is the worst book ever’, remind yourself that you’ve had the stamina to write a book in the first place. Not everyone has done that. If you counter every negative thought with a positive, you will find it a lot easier to believe in yourself and your work.