Top 10 Bits of Writing Advice
1. Be disciplined. Force yourself to sit down and work. Even when you’d rather do anything else, put something on the page. Sometimes your worst days turn into your best. If they don’t, at least you flexed your discipline muscle.
2. Read. Read everything you can. Read writers you know are infinitely better than you. When musicians are learning to play music, it helps them to tap their foot to the beat. That’s what reading does for writers, it’s our count-in, it helps us get our foot tapping.
3. Balance is key. Take breaks. Stretch. Don’t forget to eat (guilty).
4. Get into a routine. Find the time where you work best (sometimes it’s the only time you’re able to work). Whether it’s when you wake up, before you go to bed, when you get home from your day-job, etc. form a routine around your writing time. My routine is: coffee, reading a page or two of really good prose, dive in.
5. Be (a little) selfish. There’s always a reason to not write. Always. At some point you’re going to have to put something off, or cancel something, or upset someone, because you have to work. Sometimes it’s hard for other folks to understand that writing is a job, and the job gets harder if you’re fishing with your buddies in the middle of the lake.
6. Cut yourself some slack. Writing is hard. You want things to be perfect, but they won’t be… ever. If you’re staying disciplined, staying balanced, and working hard, then it’s okay to take the occasional day off. It’s also okay to write something you’re not wild about. Not every sentence can be Faulkner. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection stop your progress.
7. Don’t worry about the audience. Write what you want to write. No matter what you write, some people will like it, some people will hate it. There are plenty of 1-star reviews on Goodreads for every great novel ever published. There are agents and publishers who turn down manuscripts that go on to be bestsellers. Don’t waste your time guessing what people want to read.
8. Enjoy the process. Very few authors can earn a decent living, let alone get rich from their writing. You have to enjoy the actual writing part. That’s where the happiness is going to find you. It’s fun to speak at conferences, to meet readers and other authors, and it’s flattering to get a good review from a stranger. But in the end, the majority of a writer’s life is being alone in front of a computer. So make sure that’s what you want.
9. Be kind. You’ll get rejections. You’ll get acceptances. You’ll get advice (solicited or not). You’ll have moments of joy and moments of doubt. You’ll meet people you like and people you don’t. But no matter what or who you encounter on your writing journey: be kind. This can be a thankless industry for a lot of folks, so make sure you thank everyone.
10. Do what works for you. These are some of the things that work for me. They may not work for you. Whatever keeps you writing, do that. Whatever makes you happy, do that, too.