10 Writing Tips

Tonight’s post is a re-tread of an article I recently read, titled “10 Habits of Highly Effective Writers” written by Robert Blake. His examples are awesome, and though I plan to rip off the 10 bullet points he mentions, this article is definitely worth reading, as he comes with experience and funny anecdotes I do not. You can access this article here:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/10-habits-of-highly-effective-writers?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=wds-bak-nl-160105&utm_content=810510_WDE160105&utm_medium=email

1) Read.

I am guilty of not doing this. Horrible, in fact. I am a slow reader and it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to really sustain a good reading habit. As a writer, this is absurd. Why write if you aren’t entranced with reading? And if you aren’t learning and absorbing, then how effective can you be?

2) Manage Time

When will you write, for how long, etc. At first you need to set these boundaries, see how they work for you, and stick to them. This I am terrible at and I’m quick to give into a whim or telling myself that I will do it later. Not acceptable. Aim low if you have to. Stick to it and ramp up if necessary.

3) Set Goals

Preach! Set ones you can achieve, and then set them lower. The point here is to instill confidence in yourself. It’s not about setting the bar so low that you never get anything done, but more about building your confidence…and then challenging yourself to increase that.

4) Manage Space

Don’t work in a hoard where you are about to be crushed by boxes, discarded undies, and old boyfriends. Then make the place as pretty as you want it to me. Posters, collages, simple candle, a picture of your favorite author (though this latter is probably creepy), etc. Make it a place you want to be.

5) Set Boundaries

Tell the people you love to piss off. You’re working. And turn off your phone, damn it! Or if you’re using it for a timer (for instance), toss it far out of your immediate grasp.

6) Finish

I was working on a novel in college (it remains unfinished, so draw your own conclusions), and I would rewrite the first chapter and the second over and over and over. This was a terrible mistake. That first chapter is polished…and the novel is unfinished. I learned from this, and you should too. I think the only exception is if you realize a plot point needed to be entered or deleted. Do that right away or make notes so it doesn’t elude you. You avoid consistency errors this way by eliminating them when they are fresh in your head. Other than that, plow forward. Don’t look back unless you need a name or place or description. You will never finish otherwise. First draft and THEN proofread. Trust me. I still hear the agonized cries of that unfinished (and pretty good) novel.

7) No Shopping Your Ideas

Essentially, keep your mouth shut. Don’t tell everyone how wonderful this new idea is or they won’t care, won’t be shocked, won’t be as impacted by your brilliance…or whatever. You will then doubt yourself (assuming you don’t have the colossal ego of, say, Kanye), and it will tarnish the project. To sound like Yoda, this leads to fear, which leads to anger, which leads to a lost project.

8) Cultivate Your Team

That being said, no book was written in an abyss. Get your proofreaders and beta readers and make sure they are honest. Make sure they hold you to your word counts (if that’s your thing). You need these honest people with a sense of reading and grammar.

9) Love Your Readers

They are spending their time, energy, and (if you are doing it right) their emotions on you, your story, and what you have to say. Time and money are finite. As the author of this article said, “Honor and appreciate your readers’ investment by doing your very best work.” It can’t be said any better than that.

10) Communicate

Be available, be kind, and don’t be a dick. I was lucky enough to have a writer, a woman whose work I enjoyed, essentially make herself available to me. I don’t know that I would go so far as calling her a mentor, but she gave me some advice I will never forget and she was supportive and kind. I am still a reader of her stuff and am forever grateful. I was lucky enough to be contacted by readers of my first novel and I responded to them and received some wonderful comments…and an offer to translate English to Brazilian Portuguese should I need it again. I sure could have used that in my first novel, and though I was apparently redundant but not so bad in my use of Google Translate, I would prefer a real, live, generous, kind person to help me. If I had never been available, had I been a dick, I wouldn’t have had that connection, that kindness, and that beautiful offer to help.

So, reading that article, I can see how all of these things can help, and I can see changes I need to make. We are always learning and growing, and I think the article I stole this advice from was a tremendous help, so in my stealing I must once again thank Mr. Robert Blake for that insightful article. I recommend reading it, ingesting it, and practicing it.

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~ by Darren Endymion on January 14, 2016.

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