I may not be a published author just yet, but in a matter of 2 months from the time I post this, I will be there.
As a writer, truly helpful advice that causes growth in my skill is hard to come by. In this post I would like to share some of my best personal writer’s advice (as a novice, naturally.)
I learned how to read and write very young, and used every precious second of my free time to write as I grew. Writing is an escape and refuge. I also have ADHD and struggle with focus and time management, so I have learned a few helpful tricks and ways to navigate the life of a writer over time.
If you are like me and writing is something you must do–do it.
1.) Befriend a dictionary
My first piece of advice is to discover new words.
Words hold wee powers and unexpected magic. Sometimes one word inspires 2,000. Learn a new word every day if you can, or learn one a week and ponder on it. Learning new words is also a good form of therapy for sharpening your memory.
Thrift a dictionary and paint the cover, use a highlighter to mark the word and definitions you have memorized. Make it a tome of your knowledge and discovery.
2.) first drafts
First drafts are the skin & bones—simply the main idea—nourish the story and it will flourish the story. To get the first draft out isn’t as easy as it seems because sometimes you have no idea where the story is leading you. The first draft is just you telling the story to yourself, don’t stress about the plot lining up perfectly, just write. When you worry about what’s next you cannot always picture it as well. Let the story lead you and if you come to a stopping place in your head the biggest trick is to PUSH yourself to get out two to three sentences more and oftentimes the story starts to pull you along again.
3.) word count
Start writing 200 words a day. If you can write 500 words a day, even better. By starting out writing less words and working your way upward, you will build your writing muscle, so to speak. Aim for two hundred words, you will be amazed at what setting this writing goal can do and how it can challenge you as well! In time writing will become easier and you will find your flow.
4.) one scene at a time
If you cannot think of a plot, write a scene at a time—even if you write them out of order or only when inspiration hits. Decide where you want this scene to go and write a bullet point list of events that must take place before, then events that must happen after. Eventually the scenes will line up or it will become clearer where scenes fit as you edit the story into a coherent piece.
5.) sensitivity is key
The next piece of advice I have is the most important one yet: have sensitivity
If writing about difficult topics, issues that could be triggering, incorrect, or pushing a harmful narrative, authors should do a sensitivity check before publishing. You can hire a sensitivity reader or even request beta readers to cover questions about the sensitivity of the piece. These days, intersectionality and accessibility are important–especially in genres like fiction, which attract young and developing readers. We are all learning something new everyday, learning to hear the unheard voices and accommodate others is part of bettering ourselves as writers.
6.) Know words to avoid
Words to avoid: “Really, things, very, was/is/are/am, I believe“
This one is purely up to your writing style. All these “words to avoid” carry vague intent and I find using them sometimes gives something ominous to my writing.
If you would like to be more specific with your writing, work on replacing these words with strong and specific verbs. It’s easier to worry about these weak verbs when working on revision of the piece.
Remember, the most important part of writing is to write out your story and bring it earthside.
…When inspiration is sparse, here are some things you can do to remedy this, for the sake of your writing practice.
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