Over the holidays, I met up with some of my old ballet buddies from back in the day. We had a great time reminiscing and learning about one another's careers, hobbies, and kids! While talking with one of my friends, I learned that her 16 year old daughter wants to be a writer, so of course we had to meet!
Like me, she loves writing fantasy, so we talked about our different projects, and I gave her some advice to keep in mind as she continues to pursue her dreams of being a writer. After our chat, I thought it would be great to share those same tips with all of you new (or seasoned) writers!
- Don't be afraid to push boundaries or go against the norm! I meet a lot of writers who have majored in creative writing or taken writing classes and workshops. There is a great deal to be learned in these types of settings, but we have to remember that when it comes to creative writing there isn't a black and white set of rules. The classes and instructors are there to help you find your voice and style. Don't get too caught up in the "never do this" or "don't do that" mentality. Play around with things, step outside the box, and experiment with breaking the rules. You will learn much about your writing and will come to understand what works for you and your readers!
- Try different writing processes. I do absolutely no planning and write while having no idea of where the story and characters are going to go. A friend of mine, D.L. Young (check out his books!) is completely the opposite and plans everything. I know other writers who are somewhere in the middle and do a bit of both. We all work different, and starting out, it can be tricky to know where you land on the Pantser to Plotter scale. Learn about various authors' processes and try different things. Keep what works and throw out what doesn't. You'll eventually create your own unique process that will help you to be as productive as you can be!
- Be willing to change. So, you know that process you found in tip #2? Just because it's your process now, doesn't mean it will be next year. Be open to change. Don't feel that because something worked perfectly while writing your last book, it must work exactly the same while writing your next. If you try a certain part of your process, and it doesn't feel quite like it did before, put it aside. As writers, we need to continue to move forward, and each part of our process should help us reach that goal. Clinging to a certain step even though it no longer works for you will hold you back and cause you unnecessary frustration.
- Never stop reading! I have found that for me, reading is the best way to hone my writing skills. Instead of receiving a list of do's and don'ts, it allows me to experience the art of writing firsthand. I see what I do and don't like about an author's style, characters, world building, etc., and make a mental or physical note for my own writing. Reading also keeps my imagination flowing and allows me to take a refreshing break from your own world and characters. Something we all can use from time to time!
- Don't take every piece of advice to heart. I can't emphasize how important this is! (and rather hypocritical since I'm giving advice about not taking advice.) But I REALLY wish someone had told me this when I started out. If an author gave advice on doing something a certain way, I took it as being the way I had to do it, and I became so frustrated and angry at myself if it didn't work for me like it did for them. Then, I realized that advice is just that: advice. It's what someone has learned through their experiences and is willing to share in case it helps someone else. It's not the only way to do something. Just because something works for me doesn't mean it will work for you, and that's OK!
- Don't wait to create social media. You don't have to have a book published to start promoting and connecting with authors and readers on social media. The sooner you begin engaging people throughout social media platforms, the longer they have to get interested in you and hyped about your book. If you don't know what you could share, check out my previous posts 7 Ideas For Social Media and Instagram Content for Writers to help get you started!
- Be prepared for criticism and bad reviews. I saved this for last because it's something I'd like to shout loud enough for every writer to hear. Everyone gets bad reviews. Everyone. Each reader has unique tastes. As writers, we have to acknowledge this and realize that not everyone who picks up our book is going to love it, rush to give it a 5-star review on every available website, and convince everyone they've ever known to buy it for themselves and all of their friends. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to acknowledge that bad reviews happen, learn from any constructive criticism, and not allow ourselves to get discouraged. In this post, I share 7 tips on how to handle bad reviews. But remember the most important thing is to keep going, keep evolving, and don't give up!
Do you find any of these helpful? Is there anything you would add? What are some tips you'd like to pass on to new writers?
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