I always feel a bit awkward offering tips for writers. I have endless reams of excuses: I’m not famous enough, I’m not good enough, I’m too flawed and I’m still trying to follow some of these tips myself…
But here’s the thing: I learn from my faults, and everyone other writer out there has moments of feeling flawed and not good enough.
So I’m going to stop hiding my head and start passing on what I’ve learned. Without further ado, here are my top 5 writing tips.
- Keep writing. You can’t go anywhere until your novel is finished. Then you’ve got revisions, and your next work to start. Writing is the best way to learn how to write, so keep at it and don’t get distracted by your worries over the state of publishing, the querying, the cover art or who’ll play who in your amazing movie adaption.
- Learn the craft. The art is writing is in the editing. Read up on editing and structure, then take your book and rip it apart. Shape and rebuild it until it’s close to perfect.
- Learn the business. Read industry blogs, research agents, learn about queries and covering letters, learn how to polish your work and display it to agents in the most attractive way possible. You can also keep to grips with social media, but don’t get too sucked into it – if you’re writing fiction, keep the big social pushes until after your book is signed. (If you’re writing non-fiction, on the other hand, develop as big a prescience as possible beforehand).
- Stay humble. Learning the business means putting yourself out there in the best way possible. You have to sell yourself, as cringe-inducing as that may be for if you’re a shy, bookish type like me. But whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of developing an ego. There are very few things more disgusting than big-headedness. Stay confident in your work, but seek out criticism – find beta readers and honest friends who’ll help you see the flaws in your work. This will help prepare you for the world of editorial letters and reviews that will come once you ‘make it’.
- Don’t stop reading. Reading is how you develop your writing, and as your develop your writing, craft and business sense books will take on new forms for you. You’ll be able to pick apart the structure, adore the voice, love the craft, smile at the savvy use of advertising. You become some crazy, telepathic hyperreader, seeing through the book to all the effort the author has but into it. You’re a telepath, seeing the thoughts that put it all together. You’re awesome, and best of all, you now enjoy reading even more.
Those are my favourite five writing tips, and they’ve served me well. I hope you find them useful as well.