Writing is, for me, a calling. Unfortunately I am an after hours writer, fitting it in where I can around my day job for now. But I have been working on my various novels for years and spend countless hours discussing writing with fellow writers. So here are some writing tips I’ve picked up along the way, whether you’re new to writing or a seasoned wordsmith, perhaps you’ll find something here to help.
- Write Every Day (or as often as you can)
As they say ‘practice makes perfect’ I would like to add ‘consistency makes sustainable’ as well. Writing every day doesn’t mean sitting down and writing 200 or 2000 words every time you open your laptop. Writing consistently can be as little as 5-100 words a day, or 200 words a week. Make it a habit, the amount truly doesn’t matter, but the commitment to the craft does to help you continue being able to write when the creative juices aren’t flowing that day.
- Edit Ruthlessly
Your first draft is not meant to be your final masterpiece. In fact, it’s far from it. So write freely without too much overthinking. After all once you’ve written your first draft and you move onto your second you can embrace the editing process with open arms. Cut the fluff, rearrange sentences, and refine your work until it gleams. A well-edited piece of writing is often the difference between good and great. But sometimes spending too much time combing through can mean you loose sight of the bigger picture. Don’t forget to take breaks between edits, clear you mind and come back fresh with each editing round. You’re more likely to spot the problems you need to fix that way.
- Read Widely and Actively
To be a great writer, you must also be a reader. Read books, articles, essays, and everything in between. Anything that you’re interested in. But also push your boundaries and explore the works of others in spaces you don’t typically engage with. You might be surprised by how this inspires your writing. If there are specific genres you write in, or authors you’d like to write like read other stories in those spaces. Look at their style, tone and language use. What does and doesn’t hook you in? Reading widely is the best way to improve your writing, especially if you’re stuck and having some writer’s block!
- Embrace Feedback
Sharing your work for the first time with anyone can be daunting, but it is truly one of the most beneficial things you can do, especially when you’re new to the craft. Don’t shy away from critique, embrace it. Find a writing group or trusted friends you can share your work with and have frank conversations. My writing friends are a valuable tool in gauging where my manuscript is at, things I can improve or that don’t translate when someone else reads my work. They can see the blind spots, gaps or confusing elements that need fixing, ultimately making your writing better! But remember, not all feedback will be accurate or effective, take it with a grain of salt; if you have several critique partners who differ on a matter perhaps its a subjective thing rather than a true issue. Trust your gut here!
- Find Your Voice
Don’t try to mimic the voice of other writers, especially your favourites or those that inspired you to write. It is important to find your own unique voice and storytelling style. Let your personality and point of view shine in your writing. You want to start apart not blend in with the crowd! If you’re struggling try short writing exercises such as character profiles or diary entries to figure out who they are and how they sound in the context of your writing voice.
Writing is such a personal experience, but these writing tips have been helpful during my own journey. It’s an art and craft, and to succeed is a balance of creativity and discipline. So, whether you’re working on your first novel or your 50th, or simply writing for some fun, remember to embrace the process and enjoy the journey. You never know what stories you’ll discover along the way.
Happy Writing, Catherine x