There’s a lot of writing advice out there. Some of it is terrible, some of it is great, and some of it can be good or bad depending on interpretation.
Almost two weeks ago I had published a post about writing advice that I don’t agree with. Now here’s a blog post about writing advice I do agree with.
1. Write Regularly
Writing, like all other skills, requires practice to get good at.
While forcing yourself to write everyday is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out, writing regularly is definitely a good way to improve.
There are a few ways that you can practice writing on a regular basis.
Start a blog. Starting a blog is not only beneficial to your writing skills, but it will also help you gain an audience and boost your confidence.
You could also try journaling about your experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Journaling will help you recall what happens in your life and will give you a creative way to channel your feelings.
2. Outlining is Good
I can hear you seat-of-the-pants writers, or pantsers, groaning already.
Consider this though, the first draft that you write, with all of its plot holes and messiness, is just a kind of outline. Sure, it’s a long one and takes awhile to write, but it’s still an outline for your second draft.
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Pratchett
An outline before a first draft can be a good thing too. Even if you don’t follow it, it’ll still give you an idea of where your story could go, and all of your decisions to choose a different story will be conscious ones.
3. Write What You Want to Read
This advice doesn’t just apply to the plot of your story.
Include the things that you enjoy in your writing, and you will enjoy writing.
Do you like massive oak trees that stand alone in fields, shielding the grass below with their network of branches and leaves? Have your characters fight underneath a massive oak tree.
Do you enjoy drinking hot chocolate outside in the winter, feeling the steam warm up your frosted cheeks? Have a character do that during a scene.
Those little feelings you enjoy, the little moments that you crave in your day to day life, write those down. They will give your scenes added depth, and it will give your characters realistic quirks and interests.
4. Add Conflict
Conflict and tension create drive in your story. Make sure that you have enough conflict and that the stakes are high, otherwise you’ll just bore your reader.
That being said, if you’re going to have tension, you’ll also need some release. Reading a tense scene is like holding your breath, the release of tension is like breathing again.
If your characters are just in one conflict after another, give them a scene or two where they get to relax and maybe advance a subplot. It’ll be like a breath of fresh air.
5. Don’t Worry About Making the First Draft Good
Worrying about making the first draft good, or even worse, worrying about making it perfect, will only slow you down.
In general procrastination and perfectionism go hand in hand. You worry that the completed project won’t be perfect, and so you put off working on it as a defense mechanism.
So stop worrying about how good it will be and just write it!
“You can always fix crap. You can’t fix a blank page.” – Christina Dodd
6. You Can’t Wait For Inspiration
If you want to get inspiration, you’re going to have to go out and search for it.
Here are some ways to find inspiration:
- Think about the things that influence your writing, and write them down. These things can be movies, TV shows, books, music, etc.
- List different moments and things that you enjoy (like the examples I gave for writing what you want to read). Oak trees in fields, hot chocolate on cold days, etc.
- Write down a list of motivational quotes about writing.
- Make a photoboard or moodboard with photographs and images that you find trigger your imagination. Pinterest is a good site for this.
7. Self-Doubt is an Enemy to Creativity
When you start doubting yourself, you’re just getting in your own way.
For example, you may think that you shouldn’t write because everyone will hate it. Until you share your work, you will never be able to know for certain whether or not everyone will hate it.
Spoiler alert: Not everyone will hate your work. Just like not everyone will love your work.
8. Know What Your Characters Want
In every scene you write, your characters should want something. You should know what they want because you’ll need make it challenging for them to achieve their goals.
Challenging your characters creates conflict, and conflict is good.
9. Leave Things to the Imagination
You don’t have to describe every little detail about every single room, person, and object in your writing. People have very strong imaginations, and you should let them fill in the gaps on their own.
Usually just one or two details about a description is enough to give your reader’s imagination a starting point, but even the name of an object can be enough.
Do you have any writing advice you agree with? Leave me a comment to let me know.
If you haven’t already, check out my blog post on 9 Pieces of Writing Advice I Don’t Agree With.