During the next few posts, I will be sharing a running list of things I’ve learned in my pursuit to become a better writer. Hopefully, you’ll find this advice just as helpful.
Here are five items to get started:
1. Have patience.
This one has been the hardest for me to accept. I want to rush and put my book out there for others to read, but it’s not ready. I compare this process to baking a cake. As much as I love chocolate cake, you can’t remove it from the oven before it’s finished cooking. The outcome would be a gooey mess, which is exactly what a first draft looks like.
This leads me to the next item on the list.
2. Pause before pushing SEND or PUBLISH!
Never, I repeat never, push SEND or PUBLISH before waiting at least one day to proofread a writing project. Especially with this blog, I always find mistakes as soon as it is published, then I’m in a rush to correct them.
3. Invest in a good editing resource.
One of the best resources I’ve purchased was a text by Kathy Ide, Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. I utilize this as a guide to grammar rules, punctuation, and spelling for any writing project. Another great lesson I learned was making a list of my most common bloopers and then create a cheat sheet to refer to while writing.
4. Keep some things to yourself.
Sometimes it’s better not to share everything about your writing process with others. Several months ago, I interviewed a main character for a new story idea. This involved asking my character several questions hoping to get a glimpse of her personality and what motivates her. I started laughing at something she told me, and when I tried to explain to my family what I was doing, they seriously thought I lost my mind. Now they are even more worried about my sanity.
5. Writing is not for wimps!
It takes courage, discipline, and persistence to write. Even when I don’t feel like writing, I have to remind myself to put something down on paper. It may not be something for my novel, but it could be writing a new scene, a journal entry, a writing prompt, or completing a character sketch.
One of the best ways to keep the ideas flowing is to practice with several types of writing. Recently, I completed a creative non-fiction story and started a memoir piece. Trying new things sharpens my writing skills, opens other avenues for creativity, and really keeps me motivated.
Writing is physical work. It’s sweaty work. You just can’t will yourself to become a good writer. You really have to work at it.
Join me for my next blog post when I continue sharing more of what I’ve learned on this journey.
I would love to hear from you. What are some things you’ve learned along the way and wish you knew when first starting as a writer?