The holidays have concluded and here we are… winter, locked down… I bet some of you are wondering what to do? New Year’s resolution? Maybe you’re looking at blogs and books and thinking; yep, I’d like to write! I’ve got the time and I love reading… I’m going to do it!
Excellent! Do it! Become a writer, I’m excited for you! So the idea forms and you get your office or writing space set up—maybe a new computer or desk chair—then you sit down. Now you are ready to write the next best seller! You sip your coffee and put your fingers on the keys and … nothing. Nada, zip, zilch. You stare at that blank word doc and want to rip out your hair. Why can’t you do it? What’s the problem? Why can’t you bust out the novel or blog post? Maybe this was a bad idea?
Breathe. You’re not alone and this is a perfectly normal response to a new task for a writer. We all do this at some point in our careers—I do it at least once a week. It’s okay to doubt, worry and feel like your brain is useless mush. Trust me, you can do this. Here are some helpful tips that keep me going, maybe they could help you too.
One: Writing is a slow process. It takes time to grit out the words into a story that follows a timeline of events that you have to imagine and put down on the page. Oh sure, there are many writers who can bust out a full length novel in a few weeks. But, they—and usually an editor—spend months revising, editing and rewriting the whole manuscript. Then once it’s done it will go through another round of editing/revisions with the publisher… then maybe after a year or two, it’s out for readers to buy. Self-publishing is similar, you have to take your time writing, editing and revising before you can publish—don’t forget formatting, covers and marketing! Which brings me to number two…
Two: Always revise. A novel, article, short story, novella etc. is going to take work to get it where you want it. Think of it as clay on a wheel. It’s just a lump of semi-dense mush until you begin to mold it into a shape. The first draft is a huge accomplishment—seriously it’s a big deal—but it’s not going to be exactly what you wanted right away. It’s probably going to be a little on the ‘lumpy clay’ side at first, and that’s okay. Revise, revise and revise. My first draft always makes me ask myself, what the f*k is this? This brings me to the next tip.
Three: Read it. The only way I gain insight and also build up some serious inspiration for new characters, action scenes, and world building, is to read the draft like I’m reading a new book. Then when I spot an error as I’m reading along, I fix it or red mark it for future edits. Sometimes I get inspired to write more, then I write a whole new scene or add in some dialogue and character development. It’s alright if draft one makes you cringe, just keep reading and revise as you go. Which brings us right along.
Four: Edit as you go. I have a daily goal to write at least five pages—one chapter in word doc. I never just start writing right where I last stopped, it makes my work murky or dull. I have to get back into the flow. I go back to the chapter, or chapters, I wrote the day before and I read it, revise it a bit and edit the obvious typos. Suddenly I catch the flow and it’s off to the races with inspired content again! This brings in my next piece of advice.
Five: Stay inspired. Sounds easy right? Wrong. Writing takes time and dedication but most importantly it should bring you joy. One of the fastest ways to become uninspired and to lose the joy, is to try to write what everyone else wants to read… or what you think they want. Unfortunately, not everyone will love your work, but that’s okay. Think of a famous author… got one in mind? There are thousands of readers who hate them and want to light their work on fire. Feel better? The trick is to ask yourself; do I love it? I cannot stress this enough, you must write for you, and fall in love with your story. Then inspiration will come much easier and you’ll write things that you never thought possible.
Those are my tidbits of writing advice for now, don’t worry plenty more to come this year about traveling to little towns, RV living, relationships and writing! As usual keep them boots wandering and stay tuned!