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25 Ways to Kickstart Your Writing

Updated on March 17, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Beth is a published author. She teaches creative writing to adults and loves helping her students improve their writing skills.

Keeping a journal can help you overcome writer's block.
Keeping a journal can help you overcome writer's block. | Source

Learn From Published Authors

Aspiring writers often ask how they can become a best-selling author. They are told to "practice, practice, practice" and their skills and opportunities for success will improve. Chance can play a part in the trajectory of your writing career. Being in the right place at the right time helps, but you need to have honed your craft if you are to make the most of opportunities as they arise.

There are many ways to kick-start your skills as a writer. This article brings together the views of five successful authors to give you 25 of the best tips. Remember that being a writer is tough and you will need an inner resilience and self-confidence to succeed. You need to be able to deal with rejection and false praise. Listen to other writers and learn from them, but allow your own distinct voice to develop.

No need to write longhand, just type straight into your laptop to draft and redraft your work.
No need to write longhand, just type straight into your laptop to draft and redraft your work. | Source

5 Must-Dos for Every Writer

Jessica Page Morrell is an American author who has published many books on the craft of writing. She suggests the following five actions are must-dos for every successful writer.

1. Set yourself goals. Write down the goals and make them SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). Once you've committed to your goals, post them in places where you'll see them often.

2. Pay attention to opportunities. Stay aware of the world around you. Take note of interesting events. Use your eyes, ears and your heart. Notice, listen, take notes, and borrow story lines from life.

3. Think like a writer. Keep asking questions. How, what, why, where, when. Question your beliefs and those of others. Analyze what you think of greed, dishonesty, adultery. Wonder about the people you meet. Ask yourself about the roads not travelled, the risks avoided. Write about issues that keep you awake in the night.

4. Connect to your past. Your childhood memories can strike a chord with your readers. Try looking at old photos; they may evoke powerful emotions. Think about what made you frightened, angry or made you laugh. Remember your family, friends, and bitter-sweet holidays. Reread the books that you read as a child.

5. Live a little. Writers do not live in a vacuum. They need to be a part of the world to connect with their readers. They need to fall in love and experience illness. They need to check out the latest film, go to the theatre, visit museums, clubs and bars. If you lock yourself away from real life, what will you write about?

I recommend Jessica Page Morrell's book "Thanks, But This Isn't for Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected". She details common errors made by beginner writers such as unrealistic dialogue or clunky plot twists. She also provides practical advice to help you improve and give you a better chance of writing success.

5 Tips From a Creative Writing Tutor

Gregory Leadbetter, Reader in Literature and Creative Writing at Birmingham City University's School of English suggests the following top tips for successful creative writing.

1. Write for a reader.

2. Avoid generalizations.

3. Don’t waste words - make every one count.

4. Go where your imagination leads you.

5. Read, read, read.

This last tip is especially important because a good writer is, without exception, an enthusiastic reader. The best way to improve your writing is to be an omnivorous reader. Read anything and everything. As you read, be aware of the style and pacing of the story. Analyze the text as you enjoy the narrative. Try to understand why an author has chosen to use a particular word to describe that precise moment of the action.

How many books do you read?

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These Books Will Give You an Insight into How Writers Write

Title
Author
On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King
The Elements of Style
William Strunk
Bird by Bird - Instructions on Writing and on Life
Anne Lamott
Zen and the Art of Writing
Ray Bradbury
Reading Like a Writer
Francine Prose

S J Kincaid's 5 Tips for Hopeful Writers

S J Kincaid is a successful American author. She's best known for her Insignia science-fiction series of books. She has five recommendations for wannabe writers to follow. They are:

1. Read - the more you read, the more you write

2. Just write - don’t overthink it

3. Don’t be afraid of failure

4. Grow a thick skin - get used to criticism

5. Have fun - enjoy your creative side.

And Finally - Five Tips from Bookish Pixie

Bookish Pixie is an enthusiastic American vlogger and writer. She is the youngest of the authors whose tips I have chosen for this article. Her methods and experience of gaining an audience for her writing are probably more internet focused than some of the older writers I have selected. However, even though she is from a different generation, her top 5 tips for creative writers are remarkably similar to the other authors. Take a look at her video and compare them for yourself.

1. Read a lot. Anything and everything.

2. Read books about the craft of writing

3. Get a critique partner.

4. Edit your work.

5. Write. And write. A lot.

5 Ways to Become a Better Writer

Good Writers Get Better With Practice

The key characteristic a beginner writer must have is the desire to write. Without self-motivation, a writer will find it hard to move beyond the blank page. The rudiments of good writing are skills can be learned and there are many courses on and off-line to choose from. However, the best writers are usually those who have an inbuilt creativity as well as a burning desire to share their thoughts and ideas.

Practical writing courses and workshops can hone the skill of creative writing. They may help a novice writer improve the structure and presentation of their work. Like any skill, practice makes perfect. A beginner writer will improve their writing “muscles” the more they write, i.e. exercise them.

If you don't have the time or money to attend a writing workshop or course in person, a good substitute is to read and follow the exercises in “Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School” by Gotham Writers' Workshop. The book contains examples of good fiction writing and explains clearly the techniques and concepts behind well written fiction.

What Kind of Writer Are You?

There are all kinds of writers, only some of whom are professionals who earn a full-time living from their writing. Many writers are people who could be classed as amateurs. They are either writing for pure enjoyment, or they hope to eventually earn some extra part-time money from their efforts.

Before you start writing seriously, be honest with yourself about your writing skills. Is English your first language? Are you able to express yourself clearly in writing? Do you have specialist knowledge of certain subjects? Are you writing because you want to earn from it, or are you writing just for the satisfaction of seeing your work in print?

Whatever your level of skill, your writing will benefit if you follow the advice given by the writers in this article. YouTube is also a great free resource for aspiring creative writers. There are many useful creative writing "how to" videos to be found there.

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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 17 months ago from SW England

      Superb advice here of course. Two things made me nod vigorously - 'write about what keeps you awake at night' and 'look at old photos'. I do both those things and I find it gives me plenty to write about! We're lucky if we have such photos and I have a lot but being awake at night is common to all I think, and is also very variable!

      Great hub, great tips and one to share. How come I'm the first to comment? I've been away and had to leave reading for a while but others should have read this already. Sharing immediately.

      Thanks, Beth!

      Ann

    • gerimcclym profile image

      Geri McClymont 15 months ago from Colorado

      Very helpful and straightforward advice from people who have apparently learned from experience and are now successful writers. It was interesting to see the age ranges among the various writers (as shown in the videos)... the last one looked so young, but her tips are well received! S.J. Kincaid's words especially spoke to me, particularly in regard to developing thick skin as a writer/not being afraid of criticism. Thank you for writing this article; it has helped give me more direction as an evolving writer.

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