I love writing, but I really hate blogging. Hate is a strong word–I strongly dislike it, lol. It just always feels like I’m rambling most of the time, kinda like now. SMH. But more than a few people have asked me about my approach to writing. How I write so fast, where I get my ideas, what motivates me, etc. So, here is my ten writing tips or suggestions, because I don’t see myself as some sort of guru that urges you to practice what I preach. No, no, no, no. But these are things that I live by. And it works.
So, here it is. My ten writing tips. No order, just a list. 🙂
1) Reading: Read short stories, read the classics, read the trash… read M. Sydnor Jr. (lol, had to). But READ, READ, READ. Not only does it give you a break from this trash ass planet, it improves your writing immensely. Gives you a chance to look at other styles, voices, tricks.
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” -Stephen King
2) Network: I don’t like social media, barely like people… but networking with other writers, in my opinion, is a MUST. Not only does it help you grow as a writer, but being part of a group or the Writing Community on twitter (my favorite), serves as constant motivation to be the best writer you could possibly be. Gives you that support system to fall back on. And sometimes, connecting with others that share the same passion as you will manifest into real-life friendship.
3) Notebooks: Replace your teddy bear with a notebook. Take it everywhere you go. If I didn’t get embarrassed so easily, I’d find some sort of notebook holster to attach to my belt, but ya know…. That’d be hella weird.
To bounce back to my first tip, READING, I probably watch more movies, TV, than I read books. Not ashamed to say it. But I do admit that I need to do better. To justify that, though…with my notebook in my lap while watching these hidden gems on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon whatever, I come up with some pretty dope ideas…. About sixty percent of my short story ideas come from watching horrific sci-fi space stuff. And I jot them all down in my notebook.
No exaggeration, I have about 16 notebooks, only two of them filled out. My point is…. SAVE YOUR WORK. If you get an idea while driving, pull over and jot that bitch down, lol.
4) Workspace: The coffee shop is cool. Super convenient with the coffee being right there, of course… and you being away from family. You love them, but you need your time, right? Understood. My personal favorite is the library. Loses the coffee feature but you have that peace and quiet and a billion books around you to pop open for research or motivation or whatever.
You need your own spot though, at home. Especially now, with everything shut down and all. But even when it ends, you need a workspace at home. If you don’t have an office at home, get you a desk and a corner and claim it! Put your name on it. Make sure the household knows that when you’re in that chair, you’re not there.
5) Outline: Maybe you don’t outline and that’s totally fine. Everyone has their own way of approaching a story. But me? I’m an outlining fool. I have to make a note of each scene, watch it play out as it did in my head. And it’s kind of cheating, ya know? Like a spoiler. Like my buddy telling me about the Game of Thrones season 6 finale before I got the chance to watch it. Ugh! Still pissed about that one.
But I’m off the rails here, outlining is that idea you had in words, showing you how that story starts, begins and ends… the cool thing about this, though…. Is 1) it helps me write a lot faster, and I’ll talk about this more with first drafts and 2) the story almost never goes as planned, the world expands, the characters grow and they, essentially, rebel. They take control of my fingers and I’m just sitting back, watching it all play out. It’s a beautiful thing.
6) First Draft: All of these ‘writing tips’ are really just suggestions; a list of the things I live by as a writer. But if anything, I urge you to get that first draft complete. As quick as possible. Just write the story. Write the story. Write the story. Write the story.
For some, I know it’s hard not to edit as you go. And believe me, I understand. But to relieve some pressure, and most importantly, stress… just flush the story out of your brain and worry about the rest later. That’s why editors exist, that’s why there’s a second, third, fourth draft, etc. But write the story or you’ll be working on that first draft for years.
“Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.” -Jane Smiley
7) Focus: Unplug from reality. Get your playlist ready, put those noise-cancelling headphones on, escape to your WORKSPACE or WORDspace (oooh I like that). But leave this world in order to fully enter yours. I’m preaching to writers right now so I really hope ya’ll hear me.
Turn the TV off, put your phone in a different room. If you really wanna go nuts, turn off the Wi-Fi. Show your characters the attention they deserve or they will turn on you and sabotage the story. How? They’ll ignore you. It’s true.
8) Dedication: If you’re serious about writing (like I am), treat it like a job. At the beginning of the week, schedule your writing time. Share it with the household, your friends, so they know that you’ll be unavailable. And when that time comes, get to work; doesn’t always have to be writing, sometimes you don’t have the energy or the right frame of mind…use the time to read then. Pull that notebook out and brainstorm other ideas; build on old ones, frame new ones.
If you want your voice to be heard and want your stories to live forever, you must put in the work. GO ALL IN or you’ll be lost in the shuffle.
9) Editing: “Find you an editor to shit on your first draft, with love.” I tweeted this last year (the tweet) and it may very well be a quote that I’m paraphrasing, I’m not sure… but it’s true. You need someone to tell you what works, but most importantly, what doesn’t work. Because we all have that one friend or family member that will always read our work and will always tell us how great it is. How it’s the best thing ever… and we love that, right? That’s why we keep sharing it with them. But find someone you trust 100% to keep it real with you.
I can make this into an entire post, but not everyone is fortunate enough to find a good editor at a good price. So, I will say…DO NOT follow all writing rules (really there’s no such thing), research and make your own list…but whatever you do, however you edit, do not compromise your voice.
10) Coffee: Soul fuel. Drink it! Tea works, too. 😊
Did you really just read all of that? OMG, I f*cks with you lol. But please like and comment, and share it, too. I appreciate it!