Tips for a Beginning Writer
Tips for a Beginning Writer
Some of these might seem simple, but not everyone I have spoken with over the years knew about these tips. Over the years from school, writing for fun and professionally, these are some tips that I have learned that work. This article won’t touch on style or literary devices, but rather steps one can take to improve in any area of writing, that is, if they aren’t doing these things already. In short, they are perfect for a beginner.
The best thing you can do to become a better writer is to flex the writing muscle. For sports, one must practice daily in order to become skilled and maintain a solid performance. When it comes to writing, the main muscle is pretty much the brain; so, it must be exercised on a daily basis. There are lots of ways to do this.
1) Write everyday. Seriously, write everyday:
Try to write something, at least once a day. Start out with a minimum goal. Example: “I will write one paragraph per day.” And build up until you are writing a page per day. Don’t be discouraged by the amount of unused material you may write. Any writer can tell you that they throw away way more than they use. If you skip a day or take a holiday, write twice as much the next day.
Like with anything that becomes a daily task, it is possible to get burnt out on writing; and, in that case, by all means, take a break; but, be ready to pickup where you left off. If you don’t have the drive to continue writing, maybe it’s merely a hobby for you.
2) Don’t always write on a computer:
We rely on computers, laptops and smart phones for EVERYTHING, including writing. And it’s a smart idea to save and make back-ups of our writing, but on occasion, we should switch it up and use some old school writing methods. Try a pen and paper. It may help your writing to be on the careful and thoughtful side because a pen and paper practice lacks a backspace key, and an undo or copy/paste/cut option. Of course you can always scribble it out.
A great way to practice not writing solely on the computer and will help you write everyday, is to write in a journal. If you write before bed, keep it at your nightstand. If you write between classes, keep it in your backpack.
3) Challenge yourself:
Try writing out of your comfort zone. Let’s take poetry for example, and assume you only like to write limericks or haikus -- try writing some prose or some sonnets. Another example may be genre. If you enjoy writing about comedic stories -- try writing a dramatic or even scary story. Another option can be subject matter. If you enjoy writing about baseball players -- try writing about zookeepers. The possibilities are endless. The necessary research alone will help improve your overall knowledge about life in general, and that can’t hurt, right?
4) Know your craft:
...including your competition and what your work is “similar to.” The best way to do this is to read, and then read some more. When done reading, read even more literature. If screenwriting is your weapon, read others’ screenplays. Read award winning scripts as well as scripts that failed miserable so you can see why. If you write short fiction, read short fiction stories/anthologies. You need to know what works, and why.
Additionally, you may need to know how to explain what your work is similar to, and the how it differs. You may find as more people read your work, they will want to compare it to something else that exists, so it can help to give people an idea of something your work is relatable to, in a positive way, as it will still be original. The absolute worst thing you can do is be a critical snob in your area of literary expertise and to refuse to read a majority of work out there simply because you believe you are above it and/or it’s no good. You need to judge that for yourself by taking the time to read it yourself.
Lastly, here is something to think about: It is commonly suggested that one must have invested 10,000 hours into an activity in order to become an expert at it. If you write an hour a day, at 365 days a year, this will take nearly 27 years. No one magically writes an awesome first and final draft in several minutes. You must invest more time into writing if you want to write well. If your passion is there, and you have an iota of talent; add in some motivation and willpower, and then success will follow.
I hope that these tips have helped any beginning writers out there, and/or have reinvigorated any veteran writers too.
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