Five Tips for New Writers
Going along to a variety of different writing groups has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people who are very new to writing. I’ve been doing this for over a decade now, and have been around the figurative writing block a few times, so—while I’m certainly not an expert—there are a few tips that would have benefited me when I started that I wish someone had shared with me.
1. Figure out how you write
This is an extremely important thing to learn and it can take time. I know for me it’s still something that I struggle with—more than I should. Every writer will have their process. Mine is to write while listening to music so loud that it will probably cause damage to my hearing with very little idea what I’m going to write. Allowing the story to develop itself, as I write it, is my method. I’m very comfortable writing like that when it comes to short stories, but when I work on my novel I still have a tendency to ignore the direction the story is trying to pull me in. Figuring out how you write is half the battle to being able to write consistently.
2. Write regularly
If you’re new, you’ll hear far too many people tell you that you need to be disciplined and write a certain number of pages every day, or hit a specific word count each day, or write for an hour a day, or at least write something each day. Nobody needs that kind of pressure unless someone’s paying you to write. Generally speaking I write either two or three times a week. I’m happy with that at the moment. I’m consistently able to achieve that. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised and maintained just like anything else, so writing regular is important. The negative feelings—guilt, doubt, shame, self-deprecation—that comes with setting goals you can’t achieve and then not achieving them is not helpful. So, write regularly but keep your target achievable.
3. Write a lot
It doesn’t matter what you write. Write short stories, novels, essays, blogs, scripts, whatever you want. Just write. Finish something and then move onto something else. When I started writing I was unemployed with very little to do with my life, so I was working on my writing pretty much all day every day. Doing this, I managed to write quite a few full-length novels in my time. They were rubbish but I got them done. As I’ve said, writing is a muscle that needs to be worked to improve. You do that by writing. A lot.
4. Don’t delete anything
In this day and age, it’s very easy to keep thousands of documents tucked away safely. Memory sticks are very cheap and online storage is available for free. I still have the first novel I wrote a decade ago tucked away in an online drive account, along with most of the others I wrote. I did delete a few of them—I wish I hadn’t—but I have most of my writing stored somewhere. What this does it provide you a very easy way to self-reflect. If I’m having a moment where I’m feeling like I’m a terrible writer, I can go back to the point at which I was a terrible writer and easily see the improvements I’ve made.
5. Meet other writers
Meeting other authors and poets has made me a better writer; in fact I have grown more in a couple of years with other than I ever did trying on my own did for six or seven years. Meet others in person at a group, speak to others online, do whatever makes you feel comfortable. Listen to the others. Listen to everyone and everything. As you develop, you’ll learn what is and isn’t relevant to you and things that you shouldn’t listen to, but that only comes with practice.
Writing is hard, especially when you’ve just started. But it’s also fun and rewarding if you stick at it. So, if you’re thinking of picking up the pen, do it, but know that it’s not as easy as it looks.
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© 2019 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.