10 Tips For Newbie Writers

As a ‘newbie’ writer myself, I started writing with ZERO tips. No outlining, no planning (except for a few hastily jotted down ideas, and the general plot of my books.) I literally woke up one day and thought, why did I give up my dream of being an author? The answer didn’t satisfy me, so the very same day I started writing my first book, Sleeping Handsome, and am now about halfway through it, and have a second book in the works.

Here are some tips for you writers out there that are just starting out!

  1. Just Write.
    • The first draft is always, always crappy (although Ernest Hemmingway has a more controversial way of putting it). What you need to do is stop thinking so much about if what you are writing is good enough for the end product. If you get an idea in the middle of writing, add it! Once your rough draft is done, you can go back and edit aout all the parts you don’t like, and add new ones. If you wait around for inspiration to hit you, its more likely than not that you will end up waiting for a very long time. It will come to you as you write, so write the first draft and don’t look back, it’s a waste of time. Once you are finished, and have some distance from the first half, you can go back and edit.
  2. Write. Everything. Down.
    • I cannot stress this one enough. The biggest lie a writer can ever tell themself is, ‘I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it!’ 9 times out of 10 you will forget it. Then you will sit in front of that blank page for an hour trying to remember what it was and kick yourself in the head for not writing down that brilliant idea you had while you were at the laundromat. Just write it down. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a little notebook you carry with you, the back of a reciept, magazine or ticket, or if you need to borrow a pen or pencil from a random stranger. Make sure you get it in writing.
  3. Read Books
    • Lots of them! As I mention in my blog post about book-reading goals, Reading as many books as you can get your hands on will make you a better writer. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have the time to read, then you don’t have the time – or the tools – to write.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Where better to learn how to write a brilliant novel than from the brilliant novelist themself? And frankly, you won’t be able to relate with many authors and readers in the writing world if you don’t read. And your entire netowork is (or should be) made up of them!
  4. Get Real
    • If you think that squeezing this book out is going to be a walk in the park, then I suggest you pack your bags right now. Put the pen away, close your computer, and don’t come back until you’ve got some sense in you. Writing will probably be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. If it seems hard, be comforted. You are doing it right.
  5. Introduce Your Characters
    • If you wait too long to introduce your characters, chances are the reader will lose interest. Introducing the book with weather, or landscaping is (let’s be honest) a bit dull. The readers don’t want to know exactly what that blossom is doing floating down the river, they want to learn it when the farmer plucks it from the water to give it to his lass.
  6. Ease Up On The Exclamation Points
    • Nothing seems less serious than a writer who can’t express themself without the help of the big !!!. Don’t take this the wrong way – exclamation points are allowed! In the appropriate setting, it can add a flare to the sentence, or bring forth the character’s desparation! (See what I did there?) So check yourself. If you feel the urge to use an exclamation point, know that that is the easy way out. Pause for a few moments and see if there is another way you can convey the excitement.
  7. Read It Out Loud
    • If it sounds wrong to you, it will probably sound off to the reader, too. Make sure what you write flows nicely, so the reader doesn’t have to work hard to understand your meaning. Then they will come back for more.
  8. Research
    • It’s not a bad idea to have a thesaurus and a grammar book on hand. If you find yourself using a phrase or word redundantly, look up if there are any better ones out there. You probably already know most of them, they just aren’t coming to you when you need them. However (this word is bold for a reason), avoid the superfluous words. I mean it. No reader wants to have to put the book down to go find a dictionary – you don’t want that either.
  9. Title It.
    • Give your work a title before you start writing it, or at the very least near the beginning. If there is no title yet, you might get lost along the way. No title is no path, no direction. So first, think about where you want the book to go, and name it.
  10. Take Breaks
    • Your mind can get muffled and overflow if you spend every waking minute working on your book. Not to mention you’ll probably go insane. Now, I know a lot of really famous writers were crazy, but you don’t have to be. If you are frustrated with a passage or a page, leave it exactly the way it is. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, meet some friends for coffee, clean or just bake or cook something. When you get back to your writing you will feel more fresh and you will be ready to resume your writing. But again, don’t stress too badly if it doesn’t sound quite right. That is what editing is for, and hold off on that until the end.

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