As a new writer, it’s easy to get unmotivated when you’re staring blankly at your laptop wondering where and how to get started.
You may have gotten loads of advice from friends and colleagues on how to be a good writer but are still feeling overwhelmed.
Well, here’s some good news for you. We’ve compiled writing tips and advice from some of the world’s most famous writers to help start you on your writing journey.
1. Always have a journal
New writers find artistry from all places. As a newbie in writing, it’s essential to have your journal with you everywhere you go because you never know when an aha moment will hit you and you can’t rely on your brain to record every sole detail.
If you see something captivating or a concept strikes you, write it down on your journal for future writing projects.
You can also use LivingWriter’s iOS and Android companion apps for on-the-go writing and note-taking. You’ll have your phone more often than you’ll have your journal!
Madeleine L’Engle couldn’t stress this point enough. “You need to keep a forthright out-of-the-record journal that nobody has access to but you. There you will jolt down your opinions about life, what you think is just and what is unjust,” she advised.
2. Read, read, READ
You can’t call yourself a writer if you’re not a reader, to begin with.
The most effective way for new writers to develop their writing art is by reading everything they come across. Moreover, so much of a writer’s technique is inspired by awesome writers they look up to. Therefore, if you have role model writers, it’s important to keep their publishing on hand for reference. Underline or bookmark the passages that strike you the most and look for new books to increase your knowledge.
Stephen King simply put it, “I am always shocked and abhorred by new writers who come to me for writing advice but claim they don’t have time to read. It’s like a guy saying he wants to climb Mount Everest but doesn’t have time to purchase any hiking gear.”
Ray Bradbury adds, “You must read both stupid and intelligent books and let the prepossessing and plain concepts juggle your mind. You must become like a librarian and climb the ladder to sniff book like cologne and wear them on your head like hats till you become crazy with ideas.”
Of course today with the wide supply of online books, it’s easy to access them through the touch of a button without leaving the comfort of your home.
3. Write Everyday
Every renowned writer offers this advice, from Anne Rice, Tara Moss, Joss Whedon, Hilary Mantel, Madeleine L’Engle to E.B. White, you name them.
Writing requires effort and it’s hard to improve your skills if you don’t practice every day.
The greatest authors are aware they can’t churn their best pieces daily but even on their low days, they push through and force themselves to write.
Hilary Mantel quotes, “You’re probably not going to like the tip on writing every morning but if you can push yourself to do this, it might benefit you greatly.”
Once you form a daily habit of writing, you’ll find that the tough days are easier to pull through and you will become more confident about your writing ability.
Most importantly, don’t let feelings of insufficiency deter you from sitting on your desk with your early morning coffee every day to write.
“If you want to be a writer, write. Write again and again and again. If you stop, start over and remember to save what you write. If you feel obstructed, push through until creativity begins to flow through your veins,” Anne Rice includes.
4. Recall your Passion for Writing
You can only succeed at something you are passionate about. This is what Maya Angelou emphasizes. “Don’t let earnings be your sole drive for writing but rather pursue your love for writing and do it to the best of your ability that people can’t stop admiring you for it,” she recommends.
5. Know the Writing Rules
First, the rules of writing mostly apply to professional and academic writers while many creative writers will proclaim there are no rules per se.
Anne Rice specifically asserts that there are no rules in the writing profession. “Ignore conventional writing rules, she insists. “The world is looking forward to fresh ideas from new and upcoming writers. If you don’t construct the future classic pieces, well we will not have any to refer to.”
Before you decide to throw the rules of writing out the window, remember that as a new writer you have to know the ins and outs of grammar, spelling and writing style.
No one would want to read a book that’s full of grammar and spelling errors with no proper flow simply because you were advised there are no rules in writing.
Just be a smart writer.
6. It’s never that serious!
You can’t get in your way by being too conscious about every single paragraph or sentence you write. In layman’s terms, don’t always worry about doing it the right way but begin to write and then make it right downstream.
This is what Tara Moss suggests, “Offer you the mental potential to enjoy the whole process. Do it how you see fit and be wary of any writing rules out there.”
Tina Fey also mentions, “you have to let go, you can’t be that youngster at the top of the waterslide yet overthink whether to slide or not.”
New writers should learn how to take risks and be daring as depicted by Joyce Carol Oates. “Don’t kill yourself to make everything in your book flawless. Writing technique entices a reader from sentence to sentence but only the content will remain in his mind.”
Another humorous tip I find worth mentioning was provided by Kurt Vonnegut. In his advice to new writers, he said, “first rule: avoid using semicolons. They are trannie androgynes that serve no purpose but only as a show off that you’re a college graduate.”
7. Challenge Yourself
Walter Kirn phrases this as going to “New York.” Every writer must go to that place that represents New York where writing standards are high.
Great writers interact with other more advanced writers who share their aspirations and interests. New writers should get to learn from those who’ve already accomplished what they desire to accomplish.
8. Be Unique
No matter how much you try to perfect your writing, there will always be a better and smarter writer than you. This doesn’t mean that your writing is insignificant but rather an opportunity for you to create stories from your unique perspective.
Neil Gaiman stresses this point by stating, “write stories that only you can narrate because there is only one you.”
9. Learn from your own and others mistakes
No one is perfect and even the best of the best writers were once mediocre but they learned from their mistakes.
William Faulkner states that “people learn from error. And no matter how much a new writer worships the old writer, he ultimately wants to be better than him.”
In summary, new writers should learn to be confident and trust their judgement. They should develop innate independence and believe that time and experience will eventually make them great writers, including helping to perfect their weaknesses in writing. This is what Doris Lessing advised and she couldn’t have said it better.