Becoming a writer is not an easy task, and like any other goal, it takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to reach.
As an aspiring author and writer myself, I am more than familiar with this struggle, and along my journey (of which I am still in the beginning), I have learned a lot already. And I am happy to share 10 pieces of advice with you!
- Write, write, write!
So, you want to be a writer? Well, here’s a no-brainer: to be a writer, you have to WRITE!
Like anything else you want to get good at, writing requires a lot of practice and exercising. And no, I don’t mean running track with a notebook in your hand. I mean sitting your butt down in front of that computer and putting those fingers to the keyboard. If you’re not sure what to write about at first, write about something that has been on your mind. This helps you to A. figure out what you like to write about, and B. how to expand from that.
Don’t expect yourself to write a whole book in one writing session. (I PROMISE that will not happen, ever!) But at least take time to open your mind through your writing.
Set a designated time for writing. As humans, we are creatures of habit, and when you form a habit out of writing, you are guaranteed to get more done!
I try to write at least a thousand words a day, but you can set your own goal and push yourself to reach that goal!
Try your best to be constant with your writing schedule. If you’re a night owl like me, make a habit of writing at night. But if you feel more inspired in the morning, then by golly, write in the morning.
It is so easy to feel uninspired and neglect to write. I have done this NUMEROUS times, and it ruins my whole writing mentality. Skipping one night can make you want to skip another night… and another night.
Push yourself because you know you can do it!
- Read more
Okay, this one should be kind of obvious. As writers, it is only natural that we would enjoy reading. And it’s awesome to read within the genre in which you choose to write, but don’t be afraid to explore!
Reading more often can expand your vocabulary, and it can help you understand the writing method itself.
For example, the next time you read a book, don’t read for entertainment, but read as if you are editing it. Ask yourself a few questions:
- How much dialogue does this chapter have?
- What is the conflict?
- How has the author kept the conflict going?
- What is the major event taking place?
- How has the author described the surroundings?
- How is the character feeling? What context clues indicate this?
- What is the pacing of this chapter?
- How was this chapter resolved?
Once you’ve answered all these questions, it’ll be a little easier to figure out how to structure your story.
Reading is also a great source for inspiration. Maybe that one bridge inside that one forest sparks your imagination to create your own bridge inside your own forest. Maybe that dashing prince in that fantasy novel inspires you to write about your own prince. The possibilities are quite endless!
- Start a blog/author platform
Okay, when I first officially started my writing journey, I thought this was insane! “God, I’m already wrecking my brain trying to write this story! Now I have to do more work?” Yes. Yes, you do.
If you haven’t started your author platform AT LEAST start a blog! Doing this will get you a nice little following and grab the attention of readers and blooming writers like yourself, and you can use this to discover and create your own public voice. This will also help you get your name and your brand (yes, your brand) out into the public. As an author, your name is your brand, and if your brand is good, then your followers will expect your books to be as good, if not better.
When you start your blog, it is going to feel awkward and uncomfortable, as you are just developing your own voice. Therefore, I don’t advise you to start with something huge, but perhaps you could start by introducing yourself and discussing your favorite genre. You could even write an article about your favorite book. Start small, learn the basics of blogging, follow other bloggers that write about something that interests you, and expand from there.
Now that you’ve started your blog, create your platform. Start a Facebook page with your author name or even the name of your blog. Start a twitter account strictly under your author name. If you decide to write as JimBob Jones, then it’s best that your followers know you as JimBob Jones so that they’ll recognize you after you’ve officially published your novel. You can even boost your platform on Instagram or YouTube. Several authors have YouTube channels, and they all upload videos that are related to writing, and they offer tips and advice to newer writers like you and me!
WORD OF CAUTION! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it takes YEARS to successfully develop a decent following on social media, and it’s best that you start NOW!
- Be consistent
While you are blogging, it is best that you keep content coming! Remember that there are millions of other bloggers out there, and it is easy for viewers to forget about you when so many other bloggers write content that is as interesting as your own. This does not have to be every single day, but I advise that you blog at least three or four days a week if possible. Keep your audience interested, and keep them coming back for more!
Also, only write what you know! This should be a no-brainer, but I’m including this anyway. If you are still unfamiliar with the writing business, then it is very likely that you don’t know very much about the process, which is fine. We have to start somewhere. Suppose you excel in creating characters. Great! Write articles about interesting characters and why you enjoy creating them. What inspired you to create them? What are they like? What is your favorite character type? Write articles as you learn. Maybe you’ve just learned a very important lesson on setting. Guess what? Blog about it! (In your own words of course!)
You can also write about your own process. Are you in the middle of your first draft? Have you written a short story you’d like to share?
You can even share something personal. Maybe you’ve just visited a café that reminded you of a story you read a long time ago. Or perhaps you’ve just watched a movie that touched you. Whatever interests you, blog about it!
- Practice writing short stories first.
I’m sorry to tell you this, but before you can successfully write that whole novel you’ve thought about, it’s best to start small. Short stories are fun and great for practice! And novels are absolutely not for practice! These are huge projects, and they’re really your breadwinners. Novels are to be taken seriously, and most authors spend years on them! Short stories can be written easily within a few hours, and you can be a bit more playful with these. Typically, short stories run from 2,000 to 10,000 words, which is a great deal shorter than a novel (50,000 to 70,000 words).
I’m not advising you to completely push the thought of your novel away. While writing short stories, it is perfectly fine to keep a record of ideas for the big one in a notebook. This will certainly help you in the long run!
- Keep a notebook
I have found that a writer’s notebook is a very handy tool for authors. Ideas are so easy to come, and just as easy to go. It helps to keep a notebook close by at all times in case a great idea comes to you throughout your day.
Stephen King once said that notebooks are not so useful, as “the good stuff stays”. He is indeed correct on this, but he’s Stephen King, so take this however you will. I, personally, prefer to have my notebook. As a mom, I stay scatter-brained, and it helps me to keep my ideas on paper so I can remember them more easily. But as Stephen King says, it is true that the good ideas stay in your head more easily than the smaller, less significant details you thought about four hours ago.
These written ideas also help you organize and plan your novel. This helps if you are an outliner. However, if you are a pantser like myself, the notebooks will help you keep track of random thoughts you had that you thought would be nice to include in your novel at some point.
- Do not get discouraged
When you start out as a writer, it is scary! Especially when you finally start that novel!
Anytime you start something new, it’s normal to feel nervous and out of place. But once you get the flow of things, it is much easier to find your comfort zone.
Also, don’t compare yourself to currently successful writers. This will only lower your hopes. Remember, these guys have been doing this for years! There was a time they were right in your shoes! Remember that you’ve started this journey, and believe that you can definitely finish it!
You must also learn to accept criticism. As a sensitive person myself, this is a hard one! It is devastating to early writers for people to point out flaws in their works. Criticism is good! After all, aren’t you writing to entertain these people in the first place? Instead of arguing and trying to defend these mistakes, figure out how you can fix them and make the story better.
Before moving on to our next point, let’s talk about writer’s block. Some say it is real, some say it’s not. Personally, I say it’s real to an extent.
Writer’s block is when you feel totally uninspired to write. You may open a blank document with an idea boiling in your brain, but as you put your fingers on the keyboard, your mind goes blank, and you cannot write a single word. Or maybe you’ve just gotten halfway into a chapter of your novel, and suddenly, you can’t think of what to write next.
All writers have suffered this at some point. The best advice I’ve heard for this is “keep writing”. This may seem to be easier said than done, but I do have my own personal method for writer’s block. If I have already written up to a certain point, and I cannot put into words what happens next, I simply move on to a different scene and write what I can of that one, and later I go back to the scene I had just been working on. This may not work for other writers, but this was only an example to help you figure out what might help you through writer’s block.
I say writer’s block is a real thing, but it is easy to overcome if the writer is determined to get past it.
- Own the title of a writer!
So, you’ve officially begun writing, be it short stories, a novel, magazine articles, or what have you. Guess what? You are now a writer! Congratulations!
Now is the time to give yourself that awesome title, and to think like a writer! No, I do not mean to expect to make a million dollars overnight by writing one single story. Even if you’ve already published it, that’s not going to happen. Sorry. It takes YEARS to become successful from writing. However, you can write and talk about your own works with pride. You can even tell the world that you’re a writer!
BUT! Do not get a big head! Do not tell yourself or anyone else that your writing is better than anyone else’s! You may have more knowledge about writing, and you may have mastered the craft of storytelling, but that does mean that anyone has less potential than you do. I have seen so many people stick their noses up at others who have not reached their level, and it honestly sickens me.
Like, I get it Gertrude! You’ve written fifty short stories and one novel. Good for you! You can stop talking about it now!
But honestly, be humble and remember where you came from! Be proud but be kind!
Also, remind yourself that you have less potential than anyone else. As I mentioned, becoming a writer can be scary, and you will get discouraged along the way, but you’ve brought yourself this far! You can do it!
- Learn about marketing
Okay, this one is no fun at all! Unfortunately, I cannot go into deep detail about marketing, as I am still doing my own homework on this topic. However, I can give you the harsh truth about marketing.
Whether you traditionally-publish or self-publish, marketing your book is going to fall on you. Seriously. Traditionally-publishing seems like the easier option, but in all honesty, it’s not. Both routes require hard work, and they both require you to take care of the majority (if not all) of your books sales. If you self-publish, it’s all you. You hire an editor; you hire a cover designer; you market your own book. Marketing is your real path to success. You have to come up with creative ways to advertise your work, and that is time-consuming, and it can become expensive!
I’m not telling you this to discourage you at all; I’m only trying to be honest and tell you the truth that most publishing companies do not tell you. Aside from editing, marketing may be every author’s worst nightmare! But if you are dedicated, you can do this!
Remember that author platform I told you about? This is when it really comes in handy! You know those followers you’ve gotten overtime? There is your audience! You’ve already gotten those people to follow you and support you, now you can persuade them to buy your book!
Catch their attention with your book cover, an interesting synopsis, art, advertise your book in a video; do whatever you can think of that will draw attention to your book! This will help you tremendously!
- Learn the difference between traditionally-publishing and self-publishing
The publishing industry is everchanging, and it is typically updated every year, so stay alert on these changes.
In more recent years, authors have had the option to self-publish their own books as oppose to going through a publishing house.
Basically, when you traditionally-publish, you sell your book and your rights to that book to a publishing house, where they will provide an editor, a cover designer, and a marketing team. And yes, you read that correctly: you sell your book AND your rights. This means that this company can make any alterations to your work, and you really don’t have any say in what stays or goes. This sounds a bit harsh, but these people know what sells, so you are usually guaranteed to make some pretty decent sells. Some feel that this route is less expensive since they provide your editor and cover designer, but what they don’t tell you is that you actually pay for most of the marketing. Although they have their own marketing team, you still have to do your own portion of the marketing, so you still have to do some of the work.
However, if you self-publish, all the work falls on you. You are responsible for the editing, cover designing, publishing, and marketing. On the bright side, you still own your book AND your rights! But and as oppose to the publishing houses, you get to keep a great portion of your royalties!
Both routes have their own pro’s and con’s, but either can be a successful choice depending on you.
Basically, the best advice I can give you on this topic is stay up to date, and choose which is best for you. Do your own homework and weigh out which option fits better into your budget, and which one fits in better with your own business preference.
This concludes my ten pieces of advice for newer writers! I really hope these tips were helpful, and I hope they will get you closer to your goals as a writer!
***As a bonus, I have a list of YouTubers who also offer advice like this, and more! These ladies have inspired me so much on my own writing journey, and I honestly don’t think I would have even made it this far without watching their videos religiously!
These ladies are:
- Jenna Moreci (Eve: The Awakening, The Savior’s Champion, The Savior’s Sister)
- Alexa Donne (Brightly Burning, The Stars We Steal)
- Vivien Reis (The Elysian Prophecy)
- Meg LaTorre (The Cyborg Tinkerer)
- Abbie Emmons (100 Days of Sunlight)
These ladies are AWESOME! They create very helpful videos and give heart-to-heart discussions on the writing process and the publishing process, and they are altogether entertaining! I highly recommend them to any aspiring author, so go ahead and check them out!
Thank you all so much for checking out this article, and I wish you all the best of luck on your own writing journeys!
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I hope you all have a great night, and remember to Keep Reading!