Hello, my fellow aspiring writers, poets and playwrights! First I want to thank all of you for the incredible support that you have given me in my writing and blogging. I have been writing most of my life but only recently decided to go pro. Many of you have decided the same thing. It's a rough road but we can take it. We are tough. It is always helpful (at least it is to me) when others with more experience or just some good ideas share what they know with the rest of us, so here I go with my little bit.
Here are 10 quick tips on writing that I have found to be really helpful to learn.
1. Write like a demon! Ignore the format of the page, all of the little writing rules and every bit of writing tips you have been forced to swallow and just write! Let the words flow out like a busted fire hydrant. That first draft is the most important, even with its type-o's, grammar snaffoos and plot holes. It is the heart of any writing process and you can't let over thinking get in your way.
2. Ditch your inner critic. Again this regards that first draft of anything you write. The best piece of advice I ever got, and I really wish I remembered who told me this, is Write First, Edit Later. We lose sight of what we are writing when we are worried about how we write instead of what we write.
3. Write it down. Have a plan? Then grab that pen. Not a planner? No problem. This regards pantsters, too. You have an idea. Don't just let it sit in your head where it might get lost amongst the shopping list you were determined to remember and the appointment with the cable guy. So many ideas get forgotten in such a short amount of time that masterpieces are never written.
4. Now this one might sound odd but bare with my madness for a moment. Keep all of your rejection letters. Yep, I said it. I framed my first reject. It reminds me that I still have work to do and that that guy is an idiot. Lol. No, actually he had it right and I learned so much from that first letter. I am a good writer and there will be tons of rejections in my future. Morbid? Maybe, but keeping track of these rejections has helped keep me focused on the big picture. I am still learning. I also love that some of these places actually tell me in detail why I was rejected. It gives me more to work with than “It isn't what we are looking for”. Even when they say that, I smile and say “Someone is looking for it” and carry on with confidence.
5. Keep a notepad handy. I keep one by my bedside, next to my living room chair, in the car console and a flip pad in my back pocket. Those ideas are crazier than I am and do not keep a schedule as to when they want to invade my time. I doubt yours are any more considerate. Also, the thing with us writers is that ideas won't stop coming simply because we already have a W.I.P. (work in progress). I have seen on my social media pages where writers ask if its OK to have two projects going at a time. That is up to you, but in my experience, I have found that writing those ideas down so I won't forget them when its that story's turn saves me a lot of heartache later.
6. Use writing prompts like a virus that just won't go away. There are many resources for writing prompts on the web and many of our writing groups give them out at random. It also helps to ask on your page if anyone has a writing prompt for you to use right then. The ideas will fill the page!
7. Writing groups are wonderful. Please, use them. Whenever I find a writing group on Facebook or Google+ I jump in to join. The ideas and the inspiration help me so much, and the camaraderie between both veteran and novice writers proves that we are all equals in this profession. No one, that I have seen, has ever been told “better stick to your day job”. We help each other. Do not be afraid to ask questions, even if you think it's dumb. There are no dumb questions. Ask for prompts, as I said before. Encourage other writers as they encourage you.
8. Read your work out loud. When you finish writing a piece and you read it to yourself, things are oftentimes overlooked. We listen better than we read aloud. Hearing your voice read what you write can point out flow problems you couldn't see when you read it. It also helps you by making you the outsider. Isn't that why we turn to beta-readers? That outsider point of view gives a different perspective, and reading your work aloud does that in droves.
9. Create a platform. Sounds like something some professional or businessman should do, right? Exactly! You are a business. Your writing is a commodity. You need to sell that commodity and advertise your business to make it. No, I am not asking you to flood Facebook with sales pitches for your writing, although it helps. What I am saying is to get yourself out there. Facebook, Cafemom, Google+, LinkedIn, the choices are endless nowadays. Make posts, leave comments, and best of all, make friends. Make it where you are no longer invisible. You have to sell you before you can sell a single page of your writing.
10. This has to be the biggest and most important piece of advice I can ever give you. Ready for it?Make writing a habit. You already brush your teeth. Good, good habit. You keep your keys in a certain spot so you can find them (well, most of the time). Great habit. Now, just write. Even if you have to write a paragraph about how the cat just knocked over your coffee. Hey, it is something. You need to write every day in some form or fashion. If you have to, set a timer. Better yet, keep a notepad near your coffee pot. Start the coffee. When it finishes, you do, too. It doesn't take a lot of time to write something. Anything. If all you have is 15 minutes in the morning between “I am ready to go” and “Time to leave” then you will be surprised how much can get written in that amount of time. Habits can be formed in just a week's time. I am curious at how you will integrate this new habit in your life.
Thanks for listening to me. Many of these things I learned from other writers and I would not have kept writing without your support.