Thursday, June 7, 2012

Best Writing Tip for a Newbie

Last time I dabbled in fiction writing I bought a couple dozen books and read them all. Imagine how much actual writing I might have gotten done if I spent all that time actually writing. This time around I'm trying to limit reading so much about writing and just DO IT.

Yes, I'll make mistakes. Yes, I'll use the wrong punctuation. Yes, I'll slip into bad grammar. Yes, yes, yes...but that can all be fixed during editing. I'm realizing that I have to just write when I can, when the mood hits, and even when I don't feel like it. Maybe it won't be on my novel, maybe it will be a short story or some flash fiction. That's okay, it all helps to improve my style and voice.

So, give my YOUR best tip for a newbie writer....


  1. I'm a newbie as well and all the information out there just freezes my brain. I may never write a book but I'm enjoying myself and have started some flash fiction and I think the more you write the better you get and you learn from your own mistakes. Good luck,I for one love your stories.

  2. I agree totally. If I may, I'll share a true story that may help reinforce your point.

    I was once close friends with a woodworking magazine editor. He met a man at a show who lived locally and would haunt the woodworking shows. They met and the man complimented the editor on his magazine, saying that the mag had awakened a spark in him and he was going to build a wood shop. The next year he showed up at the show again and invited the editor to visit his nearly completed workshop. The editor agreed. The man indeed had a very nice, well equipped shop; missing only a few tools from being a dream shop. The editor asked him what he had built. The man replied, "Oh, nothing... I'm not done collecting my tools yet." This man missed out on a whole year where he could have been putting what he had learned into practice to become better. Even the first, basic tools would have allowed him to begin practicing his craft.

  3. Stock up on 'butt glue.' I picked up this tip at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival one year and it's my all time most useful piece of advice. If you sit down to write and stay there, words will come.

    I always forget the name of the author (famous) who said, "I can't write unless I'm inspired and I make it a point to be inspired at 9 o'clock every morning."

    Same thing. Sit down and write. And keep on writing.

  4. In the past, I would have said, "Don't quit," "Write every day," "Study the craft," or something like that.

    Nowadays, after having passed through the fire of a newbie novelist with premature queries, I've come to realize that writing is a job. Like any job, there's always something to do, and it has to be done every day. Some days are good, and some days are bad.

    The life of a writer is not all glory.

    Not even close.

    And like any job, as soon as you quit, you're no longer a writer.

    So I would advise a newbie to ask himself/ you want to be a writer? A real writer? With ups and downs, successes and failures? Can you do it every day? Will you learn the craft? Will you put in the time and sacrifice?

    Or do you just like the *thought* of becoming a writer, because if that's what you're in love with, but you don't want to put in the time, then go find another use of your time.

    Okay - grumbling aside - if a newbie, dedicated writer asked for advice, it would be: 1) read about writing, and 2) find reliable, honest peers who will give you good, unfiltered feedback on your work.

    Here's a post about Ray Bradbury -- on what a wonderful, inspirational failure he was. This is what the writer's life is like:

    Ah, thanks for letting me open the vent for a moment!

  5. Wonderful advice from everyone...keep it coming! I might use your quotes in later blog posts. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  6. Don't stop. If your writing stinks, keep writing, it'll get better. If its what you want to do, don't stop.

  7. To quote from the book If You Can Talk, You Can Write (Which is worth reading, btw) the goal for every writer (esp. Newbies) should be "Progress, not Perfection"

  8. Write, keep writing, and DON'T put the cart before the horse. Sometimes actually writing is so euphoric you think YES! This is so close to finished! I have to start writing queries! And pick an Agent! Or maybe I'll self pub the first 3 chapters as a 'short story'.

    HAHAHAHAHA No. FINISH YOUR DRAFT. Then start the real work. Editing. Make that euphoric giddy little draft NOT HORRIBLE.
    If you're desperate to do SOMETHING MORE while you're writing. A)Socialize with other writers, maybe pick up some BETAs or join a critique group.
    B) Read more about how to write, and how to improve your craft. You can learn something new every day.

    But 100% FINISH your work BEFORE querying/publishing.

  9. As a newbie I can say practice, I started writing flash fiction almost a year ago and I like to believe I have improved in points I found to be lacking previously. You just continue developing :)

  10. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    (Hmmm. Maybe I should take some of my own advice and finish that story...)

  11. The best piece of advice I learned...BICHOK = Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard! Nothing beats it!!

  12. Make sure you enjoy it! We all know we have to eat our greens but we need our ice cream too.

    If you aren't enjoying what you're writing at the moment, don't stop writing ... write something else. It might just be that your brain isn't wired into THAT kind of prose at the moment.

    But write - write anything that appeals to you as long as you write.

  13. Super advise, everyone. Thank you!!

  14. Put in the time. Whenever I get discouraged, I recall Malcolm Gladwell's observation that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve success in a particular field. Someone else (I don't recall the source) equated the 10,000 hours to 1,000,000 words.


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