06 March 2018
Whether you're a professional writer struggling to finish your latest novel, or a writing novice interested in trying it out for the first time, everyone needs that little extra nudge to set them on their way
Top tips to help you achieve your writing ambitions from Ali Albazaz, founder of online readers’and writers’ community Inkitt.
Whether you're a professional writer struggling to finish your latest novel, or a writing novice interested in trying it out for the first time, everyone needs that little extra nudge to set them on their way.
Make time to write
Shuffle your schedule around and dedicate time in your calendar for writing. Do you really need to check social media for an hour before bed or watch that new TV show? Probably not. Instead, use this time to write your masterpiece.
Learn something new
Sign up for French, read a book about 18th century Chinese architecture, take up fencing. Learning new things, even if they aren’t directly related to your work, can help to strengthen and broaden your writing. As your own sense of our world grows so do the fictional worlds you create.
Learn something old
Sometimes reviewing writing fundamentals can help bring structure to your work. A little refresher on character arcs, creating setting, or outlining can bring new strength and insight to your writing. Go back to basics and pick up a writing manual or take a novel writing course like this one.
Set writing goals
Dream big and set big goals. If you want to write an internationally bestselling novel, you need to set goals. Daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals. Make them and stick to them, and you won’t believe how much progress you make.
Don’t share your goals
No one can accomplish your goals but you. Other people can keep you from accomplishing your goals though, whether intentionally or not. So, keep your goal private until after you have accomplished them, then blab to whoever you wish.
Try writing something new
Change genres or styles. It can be a great way to find inspiration or get out of a writing funk.
Write what you want to write
Not what is popular right now, not what your friend or mother want you to write, but what YOU want to write. If you are passionate about your subject you will be that much more eager to sit down and work on it everyday. The writing is also likely to be much stronger if it’s something you are invested in.
I know, I know. It’s hard to find time to read when you can’t even find time to write, but you need to do it. Read often and read broadly. Enjoying other works and other styles of writing will expand your imagination, creativity, and craft. Pick up a few books and your own will be that much better. Reading on the go is a good way to snag a few minutes on your commute or between tasks. Online reading apps like this one (which you can enjoy on iOS or Android devices) allow you to access an entire library of discoverable books anytime, anywhere.
Don’t get distracted
Social media, online shopping, partners, children, laundry, cooking dinner, school, etc. There are a million things in the day that can distract you and keep you from accomplishing your writing goals. Don’t let them. Stick to your schedule, turn off your phone, order in one night a week. Do whatever you have to do to stay focused.
Write every day
Write every day. Even when you don’t want to. Even if it feels like you can’t. Habit and structure are crucial to developing your writing skills and sticking to your goals. Even if you only write one paragraph, or end up scrapping everything you wrote the next day, you showed up and put in the time to work on your project (or even career!).
Edit, edit, edit
This is for a later stage. When you have finished the first draft and what to take your work to the next level. Take all the feedback you have received and edit your work until you see double. There is always something that can be improved. This said, it’s also important to know when to stop editing.
Most authors tend to think it’s okay to write in a bubble. While this can be important for the creative process, it’s crucial to remember that no author stands alone. There are handfuls of first readers, editors, friends, family members, who read and gave input on best selling novels. All authors need feedback. If you aren’t keen on sharing your work with those close to you, or want to be sure you get brutally honest feedback, consider hiring an editor or joining an online writing community. Inkitt has a vivacious online community of writers and readers.
Surrounding yourself with likeminded people can help take your work to the next level. This can mean fans, other writers, editors, agents, bloggers, etc. Make friends in the writing community. Not only can these be fun and long lasting relationships, but you never know what’s around the corner. Comments on another writer's work could lead to an exchange or reviews. Interacting with fans could lead to character or plot insight that adds the perfect twist to your novel.
Learn about marketing
This doesn’t have to mean learning about Facebook ads or doing blog tours (though it can!). Simply taking the first step and creating your author page on Facebook, or posting exclusive sneak peaks at your next novel on Twitter, can be just as powerful. Interacting with your fans and learning to talk about your work is important to help build your career as an author. You need to learn to be your own number one fan and shout your story into the world.
Try something new
If you feel like you want to try something new in the writing world then there is no time like the present. Try writing contests, posting in online writing communities or taking a novel writing bootcamp – pick one and try it.
Finish what you start
Even if you don’t like your poem, short story, novel, or whatever else you are currently working on you need to finish it. Quitting is a dirty habit that is easy to fall into. Finishing is also a habit. Finishing a work is important because it means that you accomplished what you set out to do. There is no such thing as a useless piece of writing. Even if this piece isn’t going to be in the New York Times Best Sellers List or make you a millionaire you shouldn’t give up. The next one you give up on could be the one that would have put your name in lights. Either way, you are developing writing skills by forcing yourself to finish. How do you know how to write a final scene if you never make it that far?
Publish anything. A poem in a magazine, a short story online, an ebook, anything. Nothing grows a writer like actually getting work out in the world. Yes, it can be hard and scary, but this year it’s time to say no more to your plans to publish ‘someday’ and your ‘works in progress’. Finish it. Publish it. It’s time and you are ready for it. There are new ways and opportunities that make publishing easier now than ever before.
Stop reading this post, don’t check your email for the fourth time. It’s time to stop reading and things about writing and the world around and simply spend time writing. This above all else will help you grow as a writer in the year ahead.
Ali Albazaz is founder of online readers’and writers’ community Inkitt.