Before I get going on tips for new writers, I’ll start with this quote, which pretty much sums up how I feel after delving deep into the advice dished out on the highways and byways of the internet.
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham
There is advice that appears common sense, advice that is truly great, and advice that no-one can agree on.
That being said, here are the tips for new writers that made it into my top 45:
- Write the first draft only for you, write subsequent drafts for your friend, the reader.
- Spend the time to make sure your book cover is as good as you can make it.
- Read voraciously in the genre you write in, write feverishly in the genre you read in. (Don’t use adverbs like I just did)
- Write every day.
- Read every day. Not just what you’ve written yourself.
- Write your first novel just for you, the book that you have always wanted to read. You can write to market later.
- When/if your first novel doesn’t sell, don’t be disheartened, write the next one.
- Know the rules before you break them.
- Find a local writer’s group that will help you hone your craft and inspire you.
- Finish your manuscript. Just finish it.
- Write with social media turned off.
- Keep your insides vulnerable, but grow a thick skin. As a writer, you’ll need both.
- Keep a journal. The journal that no-one but you must ever read. Talk to yourself in there.
- Don’t worry about making it perfect. Give yourself permission to be really bad on that first draft. Remember that this is as bad as it will get.
- Practice the telling, as well as the listening of stories.
- Trust in time – to sort things out, make you a better writer and get your novel done.
- The first chapter is crucial, not because of submissions to an editor, or an agent, but because of submission to your reader. Get the latter right and you’ve also succeeded at the former.
- Don’t overwrite – Every adjective has to be justified, every adverb thrown into the sea.
- Learn Point-of-view. Lean towards the third person unless your story demands the first person.
- Find a writer you admire and dissect their writing – dialogue, plot structure character arcs. Do this with Tv shows, movies etc.
- Be a people-watcher, but try not to be obvious. It’s creepy.
- Use visuals to inspire you. Commission your book cover before the first word is written.
- Keep the time and space you use to write sacred. Protect it with your life.
- Show don’t tell. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov
- When you get there, charge through the tricky middle. Come out the other side having completed two-thirds of your novel.
- Don’t use too many exclamation marks!!!
- Remember that even when you achieve success one day, that the sickening feeling you get when you realise your writing is not good enough will never leave you. Now relax and carry on writing.
- Once you know and understand what makes your characters comfortable, throw the opposite at them.
- Don’t give up.
- Write because you love to write. Though there will be times you don’t. Love it, I mean. Write then because once you’re away from writing, you’ll remember how much you do in fact, love it.
- Write down every idea, or use your phone’s voice memo recorder.
- Don’t compare and don’t despair, be single-minded in your focus.
- Don’t say ‘suddenly’, or ‘all hell broke loose’. Otherwise, suddenly, all hell will break loose.
- Read your writing out loud to yourself.
- Keep your writing safe, make copies. Backup your work.
- At a point, make sure you have others read your manuscript.
- With regards to character or plot, feel free to change your mind about anything.
- Go for long walks.The best authors go for long walks. Quite famous ones were alcoholics too. But definitely, go for long walks.
- Nurture your regrets. They make for impassioned writing.
- Avoid cliches of description and dialogue. And characters. Oh, and cliches of story. I think that about covers it.
- Marry someone who thinks you being a writer is a good idea.
- Don’t read the reviews.
- Try to think of other’s good fortune as encouragement to yourself.
- Don’t wait for inspiration, let discipline take you there.
- Ignore all tips for new writers
“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” ― Dorothy Parker
“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury
“To all the talented young men who wander about feeling that there is nothing in the world for them to do, I should say: ‘Give up trying to write, and, instead, try not to write. Go out into the world; become a pirate, a king in Borneo, a labourer in Soviet Russia; give yourself an existence in which the satisfaction of elementary physical needs will occupy almost all your energies.’ I do not recommend this course of action to everyone, but only to those who suffer from the disease which Mr Krutch diagnoses. I believe that, after some years of such an existence, the ex-intellectual will find that in spite of is efforts he can no longer refrain from writing, and when this time comes his writing will not seem to him futile.” ― Bertrand Russell