Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi Goldberg) of the Sister Act 2 fame, said these words to convince one of her talented students to join her choir:
“… Rainer Maria Rilke. He’s a fabulous writer. A fellow used to write to him and say: “I want to be a writer. Please read my stuff.” And Rilke says to this guy: “Don’t ask me about being a writer. lf when you wake up in the morning you can think of nothing but writing…then you’re a writer.”I’m gonna say the same thing to you. If you wake up in the mornin’ and you can’t think of anything but singin’ first…then you’re supposed to be a singer.”
If you are reading this then you probably do think about writing often, maybe not every morning but often enough for you to feel a little bit uncomfortable if you are not writing.
Here are a few tips I have found useful along my writing journey…
The very first step in being a real writer is to actually write. I often come across people who use the opportunity of having read my books to tell me how much they’ve always wanted to write. My response is always the same; “So why aren’t you writing?” This might sound like a no-brainer but the only way to be a writer, or a better writer is to write. Start today. All it takes is to open a fresh page on your computer, write a word, then a sentence and a paragraph. See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Once you have put together a page or two and have become hooked to the idea of actually writing, the next piece of advice is to take a step back during the early days of your creative process and produce an outline of where your book is going.
An outline helps to plan and provide direction. It’s like the foundation and the pillars of a house; once done, you just have to fill in the bricks.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
We have deadlines for almost every activity that pops up in our daily lives. Time to wake up, time to get to work, closing time, time to eat, time for special projects and time for bed.
If you don’t have a timeline for your writing, you will never get it done. Set a timeline to complete a first draft. Be dedicated to it. Be assured that once you achieve that mark, there is no going back.
“Deadlines aren’t bad. They help you organize your time. They help you set priorities. They make you get going when you might not feel like it.” © Harvey Mackay
Imbibe one of the habits of serious writers. Time set aside for writing each day should be used for just that. Writing time is also time to turn off the Internet, take a break from social media and unplug the television.
BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE
That should be your motto in writing. It’s not a place to cut corners or leave loose knots untied. Good has always been the enemy of the best. Once you have finished your first draft, then re-work, re-edit and re-write until you have what you believe is your best possible output.
SEEK PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT
Trust me, once you have your finished work, it’s still not good enough. That is where professionals come in. You might have to cough out a little cash, but there are people that can help with your story structure, editing, manuscript critique and so on. You can also read self-help books on the writing process.
UNDERSTAND YOUR GENRE
You must have a good understanding of what your potential readers want and tailor your content and writing to reach your audience. It helps to read books written by the best writers in your Genre. Understand and adopt the principles that make their writing shine.
BE OPEN TO CRITICISM
From family and friends who read your first draft to professionals who you pay to review your work, do expect tons of criticism. It’s all good and can only make your work better.
KEEP A JOTTER
You will be surprised at how many brilliant ideas and pockets of inspiration will fill your mind on the go. Do write them down. It can be so frustrating when you get home and try to recall that flash of brilliance but just can’t.
KEEP ON WRITING