Updated: Mar 23, 2021
From what I’ve seen, a lot of these lists tend to follow the same ideas. Different authors might add their own additional tips, but a lot of them will often repeat tips. From my own experience with writing, the ones I’ve listed here are some of the most important. They may be a bit basic and repetitive when compared to other lists, but I feel that that is a testament to how important the basics are.
If you aren’t doing the following, then you are slowing down and hindering your own progress.
Who Am I To Be Giving Advice (Redux)?
Before we move on, I feel it is important for me to again state who I am as a writer at the time of writing this. I worked as a copywriter for seven years at a bail bond company, and all the while I worked on my first novel while attending a local writers’ group. That novel is finally on its way to an editor and if all goes well, I hope to have it out in the earlier part of 2021.
I feel it is important for me to put this here because I am, by no way claiming that following all of these tips will guarantee success. These tips are working well for me and seem to by guiding me down the right path.
Hopefully, they can help you too.
My Tips for Writing
Dedicate a Time. Since writing is a job, you should set aside a time and place for working daily. Creating a routine like this is a simple way to help get you in the mindset of writing. When I started out, I’d head to the library for a couple of hours each day after work. This got me away from the distractions of home and helped remind me that I had work to do. If I didn’t work, then it was a waste of my time and energy to go to the library at all. This helped keep me motivated until writing daily became something that I’d miss if I didn’t do it. Now I can do it at home as well because I’ve established it in my mind as work that needs to get done.
Read. This one makes every list and for a very important reason. Reading is a great way to learn the craft of writing. You immerse yourself in the works of someone else so you can see what does, and doesn’t, work. If you aren’t a big reader, try audiobooks. Yes, those do count as reading. After all, you are still taking in the written story. If that still doesn’t work for you, at the very least, watch movies. Now, this won’t be as good as reading, but it’s better than nothing. Watching movies won’t necessarily help you with the craft of writing, but it can help with the art of storytelling. By experiencing stories, you can begin to understand the different elements of a story and how stories are structured, which you can then apply to your writing.
Keep a Checklist. Creating a to-do list is a great motivational tool. It allows you to visually keep track of your tasks and helps provide a bit of satisfaction every time you get to cross something off of the list. I use a weekly planner to list off the different projects I want to work on. For each day, I include the things I need to work on, such as these weekly posts and my current writing project. Then I also try to include some projects that are just for fun, this way I have options on what to work on, and no matter, what I choose to give my attention to, I am still writing.
Keep practicing. Writing is a skill, and like all skills, it takes practice. Write as much as you can as often as you can. You don’t have to share it with anyone, just write. Create something like a sketchbook, but for your words. The more you write, the easier it will be, and the better you will get. Why do you think I do the Writing Wednesday prompts?
Don’t expect perfection. I would say this is the most important one. Far too often, I think we all expect our written work to be perfect and we expect it to happen on the first try. However, this is hardly ever the case. Perfection is impossible to reach, especially on the first attempt. There will always be mistakes in your writing and a better way to write something if you think about it long enough. The trick with writing isn’t to write the perfect story or article or whatever, it is to write something that you are satisfied with. You are only ever going to get to that point if you sit down and write something and then work hard on editing it. Your first draft is your rough sketch. It is in the editing where you polish it into a masterpiece.
Don’t Wait for Inspiration. Inspiration is great. It can help you come up with a brand new idea that you never thought of before. However, it isn’t always there when you need it. Writing is work, and as with any job, a writer needs to commit to it and work tirelessly if they want to see success. There are some people out there that prefer to only write when they feel inspired. That’s fine, but don’t expect to get any projects done in a timely manner. Inspiration is a great starting point, but I find it rarely ever carries me through the full length of a project. If you want to finish a project, you have to commit to it and work on it, even on days when you don’t want to. If you are struggling with writer’s block, you have to sit there and find a way to push past that. It isn’t easy, but it is a job.
What Works for Me May Not Work for You
These are the tips that I’ve heard over the years and put into practice. They are working well for me, which means they could work for you too. Since a few of these are on different lists, I’d bet they would. After all, how can you expect to know how to write a story when you don’t read books yourself?
It’s also important to recognize that what works for some people won’t work for everyone. Everybody has to figure out what tips and tricks work best for them because we all operate a little differently. The way to do learn what works best for you is through experimentation. Try doing some of the things on this list, and other lists, and see what works best for you. Keep the things that work for you and get rid of the practices that don’t.
Being a better writer all boils down to working with your craft daily so that you continue to learn and improve. The more you stick with it, no matter how bad you might think you are in the beginning, the more you will improve. That, I know for sure.