As with any beginner at anything, you want as much help as you can get before you begin the task at hand. Naturally, one of the first questions that always gets asked to any published writer/author is, ‘do you have any writing tips?’ After all, if they were published, they must know what they did to get there, right? And if I mimic them, I’ll get there too, right?
A lot of published writers/authors figure out what works for them and sticks to it, sometimes obsessively. They treat it like a job instead of a hobby and tell you so, then they might proceed to give you writing tips.
However, the usual writing tips you hear aren’t necessarily right and here’s why:
1. Follow the writing rules.
For new writers, the writing rules are pivotal, just like learning how to bake a cake for the first time.
At first, you need to know the recipe to make the cake, then you learn to experiment a bit here and there while following the recipe, and you finally learn to read the recipe for basic guidelines but you create your own recipe with your own spin on the recipe.
Writing is the same. You follow the writing rules to begin with, then you learn where you can experiment with the writing rules, and you finally learn to write using and breaking the rules as and when necessary and put your own spin on your writing.
Yes, follow the writing rules while you’re still learning and experimenting, but these writing rules are mostly guidelines to help new writers.
2. Write ‘x’ amount of words for ‘x’ amount of time.
This is very much down to personal preference, the lifestyle you live and the type of person you are.
Some writers might tell you to aim for 1,000 words per day. Other writers might tell you to aim for an hour of non-stop writing per day. But again, like I mentioned, this depends entirely on you. If you struggle to find an hour to do non-stop writing, or you can only just write 100 words per day, don’t beat yourself up. Writers often say these numbers because that’s what they aim to do, but in no way should you feel obligated to copy them.
If you can write 10 words per day during that 10 minute time slot you have, use it. Because as most writers say, ‘some words are better than no words’. You can edit whatever words you write down, but you cannot edit if you have the words written down.
3. Write in the morning.
Most successful writers throughout history tend to write in the morning, so the general advice goes round that you too should write in the morning. But once again, this depends entirely on your lifestyle and the type of person you are.
A few examples would include:
- Waking up at 6am to go to work and not returning back until 7pm, at which point you want to unwind for the night and not fret about writing, so you leave it for the weekend
- Being a night owl who gets their inspiration during the night when everyone’s asleep and the ideas/words just flow out, and then it helps you sleep cos you’ve gotten some words out
- Trying to balance work with adult responsibilities with a social life, which usually results in your writing having to constantly be pushed aside for whatever life throws at you, meaning you could go weeks without writing
4. Always carry a notebook around with you.
I agree with this writing tip for the sentiment, but carrying around a notebook means constantly carrying around a handbag that fits in a notebook, or remembering to put the notebook in the right bag.
Society has changed in recent years with technology advancing far beyond what anyone expected. Sure, the novelty of carrying around a notebook and pen is great, especially for us stationery addicts, but practicality wise, it doesn’t work.
Every smartphone nowadays has a notes app. Taking out your phone and typing down some ideas is far easier than trying to jot down ideas, especially if you’re in an environment where the handwriting is likely to be shaky at best. Plus, you’re more likely to be on your phone while waiting for appointments or travelling, and instead of strolling idly through social media (dw, I’m guilty of this too), you could open up the notes app and write some words. That way, you can feel a little better knowing you actually wrote something.
Important tip: BACKUP YOUR WORK! (Too many people have lost work due to unexpected computer malfunctions, so back it up!)
There are plenty more writing tips out there, but these are the most common I’ve seen and heard, and you should take them with a pinch of salt. They’ll probably be personal preference if they do share any writing tips outside of ‘follow the writing rules’. Write in the way that works best for you and keep writing.
What are some writing tips you’ve heard you disagreed with?