Sunday, August 1, 2010

Five Essential Tips for Beginning Writers

“If a story is in you it has to come out.”
William Faulkner

1. Establish Your Writing Time

This is the most obvious because to improve your writing skill you must write on a regular basis. Writing on a regular basis is the best way for a beginning writer to learn the craft. Yes, you can take classes and read books, and you should, but there is no substitute for action. Your writing frequency is critical for success. Be consistent with your time.

2. Avoid Distractions

My advice…..Turn Off Your Email. Turning off the sound won’t keep you from clicking the tab; that is why you need to close it completely. Turn off your phone, and use earplugs to block other unexpected sounds during your writing time. Also clear your desk. Don’t leave folders and other to do lists lying around during your writing time. We all have the wandering eye.

3. Create a Log

Keep track of your word count so you can track your progress. If you journal, add the word count to your personal journal each day. This is a two-for-one action that will give you a permanent record of ideas, plots, characters and overall progression of your project.

4. Become an Idea Monster

Ideas come when you least expect them. You may receive your most brilliant idea when you are in the shower. Keep a note pad in every room in the house. Think about your project, when you are doing things like cleaning house, exercising, or grocery shopping. Your sub conscious is always working and looking for the idea you commanded it to look for. I like spiral 3 x 5 ruled index cards in counts of 50. they fit neatly in your purse or pocket and are easily retrieved when you have that AHA! Minute.

5. Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite

Arghhhh! This is more important than establishing a daily writing schedule. Think about this. No one gets it right the first time. Do you think Stephen King wrote one draft of Pet Cemetery? Don’t try to develop this habit immediately. Develop your writing habit first and the rewrite habit will follow effortlessly. I don’t mean rewrites are easy, I mean the habit will follow naturally.

There are tons of writing resources out there. You may want to check out Stephen King’s On Writing and William Zinsser’s classic guide to writing nonfiction – On Writing Well. You might also enjoy reading about habits of successful authors like Tom Robbins, Norman Mailer and more as written by Alan Rinzler on The Book Deal blog.

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