So you want to be a Writer? 10 Tips for the Aspiring Author: #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

So, you want to be a writer, eh? Take a seat by the fire, grab a handful of biscuits, ignore the dragons circling overhead, and tune in to my top 10 writing tips πŸ™‚

10 writing tips author toolbox blog hop

1) Write stories you’re passionate about:

Yes, trends are important in traditional publishing, but if you force yourself to write about characters or situations you don’t care about your stories will have less heart. Better to tell the stories you want to tell and write for yourself. Trends change after all, and writing is hard. By the time you finish that trendy story you forced yourself to write, the topic may no longer be popular!

2) Make time for writing:

Prioritise writing. Don’t squeeze it into every spare moment, make it a part of your schedule so you’re more likely to commit to it. Ignore Stephen King’s advice in On Writing to write every day, and figure out what works best for you. Writing every other day, or even weekly, is perfectly fine: There are no benefits to writing every day, and it’ll only stress you out if it’s not for you!

3) Create mood boards:

Collect pictures of characters and landscapes that remind you of your stories. Sketch your characters and make notes about them. Make Pinterest boards for your works in progress, here’s mine for Second Chance, and boards for writing prompts or other inspirations.Β 

Merlin and Arthur best pics
Merlin & Arthur: WIP Second Chance at Destiny. Images from Pinterest

4) Do your research:

For historical novels, research the time period. For science fiction or fantasy, read widely within the genre. Watch TV, because it’s a valid form of research and inspiration. Research gunshot wounds, plane crashes, whatever it takes to give your stories a sense of realism.

5) Get writing tools:

To organise writing projects, check out Scrivener (or free alternative, yWriter). Word, or Open Office (like Word, but free), are best for word-processing. Google docs is great for working with beta readers. If you prefer writing with pen and paper, invest in many, many, notebooks!

6) Plan or Pants: Pick a side, or sit on the fence!

Experiment with pantsing and planning. As soon as you get an idea of a character or scene start writing, plot be damned. Or, pants half a draft then stop to figure out the plot. Try planning stories in detail. There’s no right way to write. Figure out which method works best for you.

7) Get inspired:

Look at pictures of people and landscapes on Pixabay. Listen to conversations, they can be intriguing and inspirational. Travel. Study history. Use writing prompts. Delve into your memories and use them to create compelling backstories. Inspiration is everywhere, so keep a notebook to list ideas!

Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Tor, and the winding path to the top. A long climb, but the view is inspiring!

8) Don’t let perfectionism stop you:

Let details slide during drafting, or you’ll become so focused on making your stories perfect that you won’t write anything. First drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written. You can put your high attention to detail and desire to improve to better use during editing.Β 

9) You don’t need qualifications:

Writing qualifications can be useful if you don’t know where to start or want professional advice, but they’re not essential. There’s plenty of free information online, and when you build an author platform you’ll meet lots of authors and potential beta readers who are happy to help. Yes, I’m studying an MA in Writing, but I’d only recommend it if you want to study in depth or prefer structured learning.

10) Don’t be discouraged:

There will always be those who say nasty things, no matter how nice you are or how good your writing is. Once you accept that, it’s easier to move past it and pursue your dreams anyway.

scales divider copy

Thanks for Reading!

What’s your favourite piece of writing advice? Chat in the comments!

This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant from January-October. For more resources and tips for writers, from other hop participants, click here:

ATB

Next month I’ll share my top tips for editing!

My past posts:

Work Experience in Publishing
Lessons in Storytelling from TV and FilmΒ 
7 Awesome Writing Prompt Resources

61 comments

  1. Hi Louise! Another awesome post πŸ™‚ I’m gonna respond to it point by point πŸ™‚

    1. I agree. I plan on just writing what I am passionate about and enjoy. I do plan on publishing one or two stories, but I’m okay if few people buy them (I’m more interested in the publishing milestone). Most important to me is that I like the story. Of course, I will get it as polished as possible and will continue implementing beta feedback. But I plan to just write what’s dear to my heart and not worry about market trends. πŸ™‚ I also plan to write many stories that aren’t published. :). And these too will be stories I’m passionate about.

    2. Yes!! I agree with you that writing everyday isn’t going to work for everyone. But we should def make time for it. Not making time for it =not getting any writing done. But yes, we have to find a way that works for ourselves. πŸ™‚ I think I found something that works for me.

    3. Pinterest boards sound fun πŸ™‚ But like you, I like drawing my characters. It’s fun and inspiring πŸ™‚

    4. How do you usually keep yourself inspired with research? Some things I can get really into researching. But other times, I can get well…not motivated lol. What do you usually do to keep from getting bored? (For me, I’ve focused on writing things I know well, so I haven’t needed to research much yet, but I will definitely need to for my SFF rewrite).

    5. πŸ™‚ I like Word and Google Docs :). Open Office sounds cool.

    6. Hehe I do a combo of pantsing and plotting (albeit more on the pantsing side). I am a plantser. I make a few broad bullet points and pants details. πŸ™‚ I agree that we all have our own methods. It’s fun to experiment :).

    7. Writing prompts help! I’ve used them to help develop characters. Have you used them for the same reason? πŸ™‚ Travel’s cool. Are you inspired more by international or domestic travel? :). Pics are helpful. How do you usually listen in on convos without seeming like a spy? LoL. I need to carry my notebook lol…
    Narrator: He has a very small notebook that he doesn’t use enough.
    Me: Curse you narrator! πŸ˜›

    8. Agreed! Perfectionism gets me stressed. Def okay to make mistakes and learn from them πŸ™‚

    9. So true. My degrees are not in writing. And, I’ve learned from beta readers, reading novels, doing beta reading myself, and just practicing overall. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    10. Soooo true. I’ve let negative comments and my own doubts hold me back. But that’s harmful. We need to move forward and pursue our dreams πŸ™‚

    Love your post. I agree with it and you make wonderful points. Keep up the awesome posts, Louise! :D!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alex πŸ™‚

      I believe strongly in writing the stories I want to see myself, that haven’t been written yet. If other people like them, that’s awesome though πŸ˜€

      I’m interested in everything I write about, so my research is never boring. So far anyway!

      I usually use writing prompts for story ideas, not to develop characters: I’ll have to try that some time! I find all kinds of travel inspiring, more so with historical locations though. The best way to listen in to conversations is to keep your head down and not look at the people you’re listening to xD

      Like

      • You’re very welcome! πŸ™‚ Your posts are awesome.

        Me too! Most important thing is that YOU like them πŸ™‚ Writing from the heart is key. And yeah, other people liking them is a great perk, but most important thing is that you like what you wrote πŸ™‚

        Hehe that’s awesome! I guess I should just focus on researching things that interest me most then πŸ™‚
        Narrator: He has interest in so many things and cannot stay focused.
        Me: Curse you again, narrator! =P
        Seriously though, thanks for sharing your experiences. πŸ™‚ I need to make my research more interesting.

        πŸ™‚ Yeah prompts are a good way to throw your characters into situations and see how they respond. I do use them for story ideas and I develop characters more outside of prompts, but I do sometimes use prompts to help me look into what I can do with a character πŸ™‚

        Ooh were you able to travel to some historical sites in the states? πŸ™‚
        Which states did you travel to?

        lol true!! I’ll keep my head down then XP.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re not the only one with so many interests you struggle to focus, I often bounce around from idea to idea πŸ™‚

          We saw the statue of Liberty and went to the top of the Empire State building in NYC. I’ve not been to any other states, other than Vegas in Nevada. Might visit Florida some day!

          Like

  2. These are great tips!

    I haven’t used mood boards before, but after putting some thought into it, having photo references, pictures of your characters and an assorted of pictures related to your story may indeed help in writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mood boards, I like that. I definitely think there’s something to be said for having ways of quickly invoking specific emotions, as another way of “getting into the moment.” I usually favor music, preferably nonlyric, but I could see images doing it too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is all excellent advice! I think the key things that really helped me personally when I decided to take my writing seriously are scheduling writing into my days, investing in educational resources, and figuring out the ways to spark my creative inspiration such as Pinterest and music playlists. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ahh the mood boards are wonderful and terrible. Wonderful because they help me immerse, as a not very visual type person. Terrible because I spend so much time finding beautiful photos on Pinterest, haha. And that self-doubt or negative feedback can be crippling. It’s best to do as you said, move past it and not let it discourage your dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All 10 great points for writers, aspiring or experienced! I think the first bit of advice for aspiring writers is to sit down and write! Procrastination is a problem for writers. I finally set aside a time every day to write and kept it as I would for a doctor’s appointment or haircut. Thanks for sharing this valuable list for writers.
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks πŸ™‚
      That’s another important point, sometimes the hardest part is sitting down to write. The first fifteen minutes is often the hardest, but if I power through that I usually get into it and start to enjoy it!

      Like

  7. Your interests rock! Have you read Oliver Sacks’ books before? They are great ones on psychology and neurology. I also like David Eagleman’s The Brain book too. Anime and fantasy rock!

    Dragons too. The history podcast Throughline is great :).

    Liked by 1 person

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