12 Tips to Follow Before You Start Writing
Deciding you want to write can be such an exhilarating and scary feeling at the exact same time. You have all these thoughts and ideas running through your head, but you are not quite sure where to start. As a writer myself, I understand because I've been there. And even though there is no right or wrong way to start, there are a lot of things I wish I would have known before I started writing seriously (instead of just for fun).
That is why, here at Writely Me, we decided to ask the experts that very question. Below you will find twelve responses from authors, bloggers, and editors on what they wish they'd known before they started writing. Use this information as a way to guide you through your writing journey, because it is just that, a journey.
1. Be a Disciplined Writer
"I wish I had known that's there's no such thing as a writer who only writes when they are inspired. I wish I had known that when you look back at your writing many years later you won't be able to tell which days were good and which days were bad. And I wish I had known that writing is the easy part and the dedication to stick to the same project for months on end - or maybe even years - is the hardest part.
For a long while I waited on inspiration and never wrote as a result. Waiting on inspiration held me back for a long time and I realize now that only those who can write without inspiration will get anything done and only those who write often no matter how bad it may feel, who stick it out for the good days and the bad, are the real writers."
-- Emma Welsh
Emma Welsh is a multi-medium storyteller with experience in short stories, screenplays, poetry, and more. She spent her years at University learning as many different types of writing she could. Currently, she shows writers how to give a story what it truly deserves over at emwelsh.com.
2. Stop Being and Perfectionist and Break Some Rules
"There are a few things I wish I had known when I first started writing.
Writing in the real world is different than writing in school. In the real world, you need to learn to break some rules. Break the grammar rules, break the punctuation rules, break the sentence structure rules. The far more important objective is reaching your audience by expressing your true personality.
Stop being such a perfectionist and stop waiting for the perfect time to start writing "for real." You will never have the perfect story or article outline delivered to you while you sleep. You will never have the perfect distraction-free writing environment for the duration of your writing career. Stop waiting for those things to happen, start writing, and then put your words out there!
Your first draft of anything is probably going to be crap. But if you just let the words flow, then later you will always find some hidden gems that you don't even remember writing. Take those gems, polish them, and create something beautiful."
Julie, from fillingthejars.com, is a mom, writer, and can create the best Pinterest images ever. The only female in a house full of boys, she teaches others how to build a better life through writing, home, and finances.
3. Writing isn't Easy but it's Worth It
"When I started writing, I wish I had known that you don't have to get every little detail right the first time. That a rejection isn't no forever but just a no, not yet. I wish I had known that writing is so much more difficult than people give it credit for, but it's one of the most rewarding things you can ever do. You may have a bad day when you wonder how you'll ever write all the stories in your head, but the good days when you write like crazy are rewarding enough to make up for everything in between."
Kayla Dean helps freelancers find their voice and creativity through her site kayladean.com. A grad student and writer, Kayla has been published in an international anthology and magazine. She strives to show writers that they can create a freelance career alongside the fiction they write.
4. Writing What's in your Head Won't Always Turn Out as Planned
"I wish I knew that nothing I write will ever be as vivid as it feels in my head moments before putting it down on paper-- or, more likely, late at night when i'm in bed trying to sleep-- and that's okay. They synapses in our brains can store and transmit a billion times more data then we could ever hope to convey with scribbles on a notepad or fingers on a keyboard. The fact that we can get any of it out at all is kind of amazing. Something is always lost in the telling, even in the work of a master writer. The good news is the reader's imagination will fill in those gaps; the writer/reader relationship is unexpectedly collaborative in that way. Knowing this would have saved me a lot of frustration and disappointment in my own work."
Haley has been published is several publications and has won an award in both poetry and creative nonfiction. A current writer, she created the Writersaurus as a way to educate writers about publishing and the craft of writing through posts, workshops, prompts, and exercises. This can be found at thewritersaurus.com.
5. Be Kind to Your Creativity
"I wish I'd known that perfectionism does not work. I used to believe that my hyper-strict requirements made me a better writer. But actually, perfectionism gnawed away at my strength, without delivering the perfection it promised. It didn't make me better: it made me brittle.
Perfectionism also kept me from tolerating the awkwardness of learning to write. If I had just embraced the messiness of those ugly-but-endearing stages, I would have gotten further faster, with a lot more fun along the way!
To make things worse, that results-driven focus wouldn't allow the dreaming and playing that creativity requires. It seemed too silly and too pointless. So I stopped tending my creativity. I've had a strong imagination my whole life, so I figured creativity would always be there. But after periods of block and burnout, I finally realized creativity must be fed and nourished continually. No matter what.
So I'm finally kicking perfectionism out of my life. Compassion, kindness, and courage are stepping into its place. I'm still working toward excellence, but without that desperate, perfection-driven panic. It's a much nicer way to work!!"
Lucy Flint is a writer and a blogger dedicated to helping others. She is a lover of books and all things literature. She went to school for English and Creative Writing. You can find a series of helpful writing posts at lucyflint.com.
6. Don't Wait to Write
"I first began writing fiction in June 2012, when I was still in school. At the time, I believed that you shouldn't ever write unless you were filled with inspiration, that doing so would cause your work to suffer. And so I let writer's block and creative ruts derail my writing life, hoping that maybe one day the muse would come along to give me a little inspiration. But inspiration rarely came, so I soon began to believe that I just wasn't cut out to be a writer.
But as Maya Angelou once said, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." It took me years to learn that creativity is a choice, a discipline. By choosing to build a daily writing habit, working even when my inspiration felt low, I trained my mind to push past doubts and insecurities–the root of writer's blocks and creative ruts. I got back to working on the stories that I was passionate about and began actively chasing down my dreams.
You don't have to write every single day, but choosing to create a consistent writing routine is one of the best things you can do to grow as a writer. Make your writing a priority, and you'll make your dreams a priority too."
--- Kristen Kieffer
Kristen is a novelist, writing coach, and entrepreneur. She is the author of "The Dark Between" and founder of Shes Novel. Kristen launched shesnovel.com as a way to help writers create novels that will excite both readers and publishers. You can also follow her writing journey here.
7. Find Your Writing Community
"When I first started writing, I wish I had known more about the incredible communities of writers all over the Internet! These wonderful people inspire me every day to continue to be a good writer as well as provide high quality editing services to writers. The support, encouragement, and positive attitude from writing communities motivates me to be a good service provider."
Megan Harris is both a professional editor and writer. She is passionate about reading and books and has the utmost respect for indie and self-published authors. Megan offers a variety of services for writers over at mharriseditor.com including manuscript editing and proofreading.
8. Constantly Work Hard
"When I started writing, I wish I had known more about the gap between taste and talent, as famously addressed by Ira Glass in this talk. Fledgling writers often bend over backward trying to emulate their literary heroes rather than discovering their own style, not realizing how much time and practice it takes to get to that point. It's something I'm still struggling with, and I bet I'm not alone.
I also wish I'd known that the biggest difference between a published writer and a non-published writer is the dedication and determination to see a project finished. Writing is hard work, even on the easier days, and it's a lot easier to not write than it is to write. The only way to achieve any level of success as a writer is to keep moving forward until you type, "The end."
Briana is a blogger, editor, and writer of New Adult and Young Adult fiction. She loves Gatsby and dark reads. She is also the author of the book "Blood and Water." Aside from writing, she provides editing services over at brianamaemorgan.com including line and developmental editing.
9. Write for Fun
"When I first started writing I was very, very young, and I wrote without judgement or expectation. I wrote freely and confidently in whatever way the words wanted to go. I wrote for FUN. I wish that when I started writing I would have held onto that freeness, that fun, that play. I wish I could have protected myself from the pressures and feelings of "should" that come with growing up. It's hard not to feel like your writing "should" be a certain way (i.e. I "should" write these kinds of stories, not those) or you "should" be writing in a certain way (i.e. I "should" write every morning without falter). But none of those "shoulds" are true. The only thing you "should" be doing with your writing is whatever works best for you on a n individual, personal, unique level. The writing eon't work if you pressure it with all those expectations and "shoulds" and judgments. I think my young writer-self had gotten it right the first time. My current writer-self needs to take lessons from her."
Rachel Giesel has a bachelor's in creative writing and is on a mission to discover real+good writing. She earned writing awards, taught creative writing workshops, and managed literary magazines. Currently, Rachel helps writers hone in on their skills through her site rachelgiesel.com.
10. Your First Draft is Supposed to be Sloppy
"I've been writing since I was a child, which is too early to worry much about the pros and cons of writing. But my perspective has changed a bit since I decided I wanted to write for a living. When I first started writing seriously, I wish I'd known that it's okay to start with something absolutely terrible and chisel it into something good over time. I've always been a perfectionist in the sense that I want every sentence to come out perfectly the first time. That pretty much never happens. Successful writers know how to get out of their own way so they can get the words on the page before perfecting them later.
I also wish I'd known that writing isn't something you do only when you feel inspired. To be a prolific writer you have to write consistently, whether you feel like it or not. That can be a challenge, but it's necessary. The good news is that the more you write, the easier it gets (and the better you get as a storyteller and communicator). I wish I'd known sooner that writing is a completely viable way to enjoy life and make a good living at the same time. If I'd known that, I would have branched off of poetry and started writing books, blog posts, and more much sooner!"
Meghan is on a mission to lift up fellow writers and document her journey through her blog theladyinread.com. A lover of reading and writing, she has her own chapbook published along with poems and articles. She describes the Lady in Read as a home for women who read, write, and want to be read.
11. Only You Can Make Your Writing a Priority
"I wish I had realized earlier that if I didn’t take my writing seriously, no one else would. Once I did realize this, it was particularly valuable in combating the guilt I occasionally felt for taking the time to make writing a priority. In realizing I was the only one who could make it a priority, I got serious and started making it clear (as tactfully as possible) to others that my writing time was not to be taken lightly. That made all the difference."
K.M Weiland is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of "Outlining Your Novel," and "Structuring Your Novel," as well as "Jane Eyre: The Writer's Digest Annotated Classic." She writes historical and speculative fiction and mentors authors on her award-winning website helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com.
12. Your Random Writings Matter
"When I first started writing, I wish I would've known that I wasn't wasting my time. I started writing as soon as I learned how to read and it was one of my favorite hobbies. But every time I wrote a story or a random scene I thought I should be doing homework, or reading a book, or learning a "real" skill.
I wish I could go back in time and tell my 7-year-old self that every random piece of X-Men fan fiction I wrote during my childhood was training for the future. That all those nights spent typing away would help me create the stories I'm about to share with the world today."
-- Tomi Adeyemi
Tomi is a writing coach and Young Adult Fantasy writer. A graduate from Harvard, Tomi uses tomiadeyemi.com to provide writers with the knowledge she learned over the years from being an aspiring writer to a published one.
Put aside the fear and get ready to leap. Everyone makes mistakes the first time around (and the second and the third), but that is how you learn and grow to become the best writer you can possibly be. Use the advice above as a way to guide you through this amazing writing journey, and remember you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Do you have something you wished you would have known before you started writing that isn't listed above? Leave it in the comments! We would love to hear what has helped craft you into the writer you are today!