Another 20 tips from 20 authors. Each Wednesday I host an #AuthorSpotlight with a different romance author. I hold back a few answers on various topics. Today’s topic is best advice for aspiring authors.
Just write what forms in your mind, even if it’s not a full story yet, write it down then you can fill in around it later. It’s better to get your idea’s down so you don’t forget them.
Keep studying. Classes on grammar, point of view, active vs. passive voice, story structure, and more are well worth the time put into them.
If you think you have it in you to write, then try. Whether you become published or not, whether you simply write fan fic, or use Wattpad to tell others your stories – keep doing it if it makes you happy. Then if you think you can make a commercial success out of it, approach a publisher or self-publish. But if you do either of these, make sure you have a great editor and try to learn the craft of writing to the best of your ability. I learnt as I progressed and there were some tough lessons in there but the constant honing of my skills is always a focus.
Write what you want! Yes, you want to write what sells, but what better way to really enjoy your craft than to write the story that you want to read?
Don’t talk about how much you want to write. Just sit your ass down at your laptop, with a notebook, and write. Write terrible, shitty first drafts—and edit them later. Just write.
Also—finish. Start small. Finish a 150 word flash fiction piece, a 500 word rant, a 1500 sexy story. Just get in the habit of finishing things. And then finish your first bad novel. If it’s really bad, nobody needs to read it. But it might not be bad. And even if it’s bad—it’s finished! Finishing things is so important.
Read as much as you can in any and every genre not only your own. Write a little bit every day. Also, don’t go back and start editing until you have the bones of your story down, otherwise, you will get stuck in an editing bog.
Practice, practice, practice. No one, not even your heroes, wrote a perfect anything their first time. It takes time, and you’ll have stories you poured your heart into that end up sucking, but it’s how we learn.
Get used to the idea of rejection. Every successful writer in history has been rejected. It’s not a personal attack on you, I swear. It’s just a part of the job, so take anything useful you can get from the rejection and send the story out again to the next publisher or agent on the list.
Put pen to paper, period. Don’t worry about what comes out then, it’s the first draft that comes from the heart when you write, because you are in the moment. Wait for the editing process to handle the rest.
It’s really hard sometimes, just getting the words down. And often that first draft is ugly. But once an idea has been written, it can be cleaned up, polished, and maybe published.
Read a lot and study the craft. There is a lot of advice available on the internet. All you need to do is question Google. Watch out for headhops and study punctuation.
Read, read, read. You need to know what’s out there. Critiquing other’s work helps too and the best way to do that is to join a writer’s group. Writing is a craft that must be learned. And never Indie publish your first book without a sound critique from someone who knows the craft.
Read. Read everything (in every genre) you can get your hands on. There are so many wonderful styles and voices out there and something to be learned from everything you read, even if it’s what not to do.
First: Give yourself a minimum word count a day, and write it no matter what. Some days this feel like torture, but in the end you’ll finish.
Second: Finished is always better than perfect.
Write the book. Allow yourself to write a terrible first draft if that’s what it takes. You can’t edit blank pages.
Keep pushing. Never give up. Get your butt in that chair and write. The more you write, the better you get. Don’t pass up opportunities to get experience no matter what it is- pitching, working with an editor or agent, submitting a story, getting feedback, working with a more experienced author, guest speaking, you name it take advantage of it.
Stop putting hurdles in your way. If you wait for time to write, or for when you finish the first project perfectly that means so much to you, you will never move forward. Finish a small story, learn how to format and publish, but do something to move your career forward each week.
If you have a book in you that’s not in the style that is currently popular, write it anyway. You might start a new trend or be part of a trend that is gaining momentum. Your original voice will make for a better book.
Finish it. Don’t overthink or overedit. Just write it until it’s done.
Write and then edit. When I was starting out, the worst thing I ever did was write a paragraph and then stop to edit it. It took me forever to write a complete chapter. You might keep worrying “but what if my writing sucks!” Well, right now you might think like that, but remember that every first draft sucks. You’ve just got to keep going! The finished version will look so much better than your first draft, I promise.