As a published author and a college writing instructor, I often get asked for advice about writing. I have loads of tips and advice but I think they are all overruled by one piece of common sense: if you want to be a writer … write!
Ah, such simple advice and yet so difficult to stick with (even for someone like me). Writing is hard work and, for me, it’s like exercise … good intentions don’t really yield any results. You have to just do it!
The exercise analogy actually works really well when you think about. After all, writing (particularly fiction writing) is a work out for your imagination! So the best way to unleash your inner writer is to set a time every day to write.
This worked really well for me with Five Corners. I actually signed up for Nanowrimo (if you haven’t checked it out, you should: http://nanowrimo.org/)! Writing a novel is a month is a great way to start a writing practice. Choose a goal and then stick with it. So you could commit to writing 50,000 words in a 30-day period (or a 60-day period or whatever is realistic for you). Or you could challenge yourself to write every day for 30 days. And then celebrate when you’ve actually achieved your goal! (I firmly believe that celebration is very important).
The biggest thing for me once I’d committed to Nanowrimo goal was that I did not go to sleep at night until I had written something. It didn’t matter how much, it just mattered that I got some words down on paper and increased my word count before going to bed.
The other big piece of advice I give to writers is to save editing until later. Don’t go back and start reading what you have written until you’ve reached your goal (whatever that may be). The danger with reading over your draft as you go is that you will jump into the editing role before you finish getting the story down on paper. So what’s wrong with that, you might ask? Well, there is the real problem of the internal editor taking over and killing the creativity. When that happens it makes it almost impossible to write.
So challenge yourself – get that first draft down on paper and then start another one! Find a system that works for you and then write every day.
+Cathi Shaw is the author of Five Corners, Book 1 of the Marked Ones. Available in paperback and ebook from Amazon.