9 Tips for Wannabe Writers
Because it’s not always easy to start writing
So you like to think you’re a bit of a writer. You dream of writing to make a living; to work when, where, how you want; to be the next JK Rowling; to never even get out of bed if you don’t have to.
But there’s one problem. If being a writer was all about dreaming, you’d earn a gold star. When it comes to actually getting pen to paper or finger to keyboard though, you either remember all those things you really should do right now like vacuuming or cleaning the oven, or the sight of an empty page makes you convulse with trepidation.
Let’s be frank here. If you don’t write, you’re not a writer. But every writer goes through the same journey. Here are nine tips for wannabe writers to get more words on the page.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #1: Look at your writing every day.
Every man and his dog reckons you should write something every single day, but that’s a heckava lot of pressure on someone who’s just starting out. When life takes over and kids are underfoot or you’ve gone out for dinner or – admit it – you just don’t feel like it, forcing yourself to write or, worse still, not having the time to makes you feel awful about your attempts at being a writer. Don’t aim to write every day; aim to at least look at your writing every day. If more writing emerges from the ether, awesome. If not, it doesn’t matter. At least you’ve immersed yourself in your ideas for even a few minutes.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #2: It’s OK to write total crap.
“The first draft of anything is shit,” said Ernest Hemingway. Just write what comes out of you, then go back later and make it sexy. Editing and re-editing as you write will get you nowhere. Get words on the page then go back and tie up the loose ends.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #3: Create a space that’s conducive to writing.
Set up a space where you can write, that belongs to only you. If you work well with music, play it. We recommend Pandora. If you work best with lovely views, set up shop near an open window. Whatever you do, remember your posture. Sitting in bed for days on end with your laptop perched on your knees might be cosy, but your back will be screaming at the end of it. Investing in a good desk and chair is golden.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #4: Turn off your Wifi.
Netflix is the Grim Reaper of all writing-related dreams. Just don’t. If you don’t trust yourself, turn Wifi off altogether. If you want words to stick to the page, constant technological interference will get you nowhere.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #5: Always carry a notebook.
Maybe you overhear a conversation on the bus that could make for a good short story. Maybe you spy an interesting billboard or mural with a slogan that’s worth remembering. Maybe you see the oldest couple you’ve ever seen holding hands and crossing the street, and it gives you millions of warm fuzzies inside. Your short-term memory probably sucks so write it down. You never know what might become your next source of inspiration.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #6: Don’t panic.
Unless you’ve got a deadline, don’t panic if ideas don’t come to you immediately. Stop putting pressure on yourself. Just write and see what happens. If you do have a deadline, just write and see what happens anyway, then go back to Tips for Wannabe Writers #2. It’s OK to write total crap, because you can always go back and make it sexier later.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #7: Don’t write like a wanker.
David Ogilvy famously recommends to avoid jargon, otherwise you’ll sound like a “pretentious ass.” Figure out who your audience is, then write like you’d have a conversation with them. If you’re writing for tweens and teens, long and complicated vocabulary that could be explained in a much simpler way will likely lose your audience.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #8: Read.
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time – or the tools – to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King is onto something there. Reading other people’s work teaches. Reading other people’s work inspires. Reading other people’s work brings you back down to earth.
Tip for Wannabe Writers #9: Hang out with other writers.
Writing can be lonely. Join a writer’s group where you can share ideas and issues. You’ll find support in the masses because everyone has something to share.