Have you recently discovered the joys of writing but fear you’re too new at writing to be successful? Hang tight and don’t give up, my friend, as today I’m sharing my top three tips to help you level up from a newbie writer to a knight in shining writerdom!
I’ve been writing stories pretty much since I learned to form sentences on a page, almost eighteen years ago. Still, I’m no expert at this whole writing thing. I learn new things about the writing craft every day, but these are some tips I wish I would’ve come across when I first began to take writing seriously.
Tip 1: Work on One WIP at a Time
Though some seasoned writers may be able to handle writing two or more books at once, when you’re attempting to write your first novel, (and, truthfully, your second or third), please stick to one WIP (work in progress) at a time. Though I finished my first novel, Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl, without another plot bunny forming, once I started writing Speak Your Mind, I got the ideas to start writing The Crush, On the Flip Side, and a couple other projects that I’ve abandoned for now. I finished CBTHOACG over the course of a year and half. Because I was flipping back and forth between WIPs for seven years afterwards, I didn’t finish another novel until completely dedicating my writing time to Speak Your Mind from late 2017 to early 2018.
Don’t follow in my footsteps, young grasshopper. Don’t think that just because you get stuck on one WIP that you’ll be able to start and finish another with no issues. The devil is a liar! If you do get ideas for other writing projects, simply write them down and go back to them after your current project is finished. Stick it out one WIP at a time, and try to…
Tip 2: Outline Your Plot
I pantsed Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl like there was no tomorrow, but pantsing Speak Your Mind eventually led to getting stuck on one easy scene for a year or two and causing the other novel ideas to swarm. Basically, pantsing and waiting for inspiration to strike thwarted my progress as a writer. Once I sat down and mapped out the course I wanted to take the novel, everything started falling into place.
No, I don’t have a fancy outlining method. For the most part, I take a single sheet of notebook paper and list out all the events that need to happen in the book. This is better explained in my post The Quick and Easy Guide to Rewriting.
Another outline method that I’ve stumbled across recently is Abbie Emmons’s Turn Your Messy Story Idea into an Outline guide, which can be found here. Abbie offers a printable PDF that you can fill out in order to make better sense of your random ideas for the novel. I highly suggest checking out this guide and her videos on outlining, as they’ve helped me tremendously when rewriting The Crush.
Tip 3: Seek Feedback, but Ignore Destructive Criticism
The first time I ever received feedback for my writing was during the one and only Creative Writing class I took as an elective in community college. Though I mostly received positive feedback, during our Poetry section, my instructor provided constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is advice that will build you up as a writer and propel you forward. New writers, be sure to seek out constructive criticism and learn to tune out destructive criticism.
Destructive feedback occurs when a fellow writer/reader speaks negatively (moreso rudely) about your writing with no real reason why, or a reason that is merely opinion based rather than craft based. For example, if your critique partner reads your politically-driven dystopian novel and comments, “this story sucks because the main character supports the use of guns”, the feedback is merely opinion based, as they may not have the same view on guns as the character, or you as the author.
Another example would be if your reader throws in comments like “annoying”, “horrible”, or “hot garbage” when describing your work. Constructive criticism will never involve rude language to describe your work. Rude language is only used to belittle your work. There’s a difference, my friend. Learn to embrace the constructive feedback and ward off those who have nothing nice to say. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. 😉
There you have it! New writers, I hope these tips have been helpful!
What other tips have you come across that have helped you as a writer? Feel free to share in the comments!