#1. WRITE BECAUSE YOU WANT TO WRITE, NO MATTER WHAT ANYBODY ELSE SAYS
And I mean anybody. Don't let anyone get you down, not your parents, not your friends, not your teachers or that stranger on the internet who probably sits around eating cheetos on a greasy keyboard and can't spell to save his life.
No, writing is about YOU and your life and desires and story. If you have something to say, say it. Never stop. That is the most important thing I have learned. NEVER STOP.
#2. SET OBTAINABLE GOALS, AND GIVE YOURSELF ROOM FOR FLEXIBILITY
On January 1, 2013, I made a New Year's Resolution: write a book by January 14, only two weeks later.
I had personal reasons.
The point is, I met my goal. I finished when I said I would because I knew I could. I had a completed 151,000-word first draft and I couldn't ask for anything else. The feeling was amazing. I was that much closer to being done. Then I set a new goal, to finish editing the second draft by April 1st.
So I took a break, collected myself, and then got back to work. I edited and edited and edited EVERY SINGLE DAY until I was done. I know most people don't have the kind of time I do, but again, the point is to MEET THE GOAL. I actually beat my goal. I finished on March 28th.
My manuscript was reduced to 122,000 words.
Set goals. Meet goals. You will feel WONDERFUL. Completing goals is such a rewarding experience.
#3. START A BLOG AND WRITE USEFUL POSTS
I'm not trying to pat myself on the back. I'm saying blog what you learn, just as you should actively use what you learn. I write from experience. I want to help people, and that is part of what keeps me motivated. If I don't learn, I can't offer advice.
#4. FIND WRITING COMMUNITIES ON FACEBOOK AND OTHER SITES
I happened upon a Facebook page called Go Teen Writers while doing a lazy Google search one day way back in January 2013. Let me tell you something: the people there are fantastic. Everyone helps each other. You'll see comment threads with 20...30...40 comments just to talk about one specific part of writing. And everyone has become, more-or-less, friends. We'll talk about random things, like Harry Potter and what our favorite fantasy land is, and you'll see us posting pictures of our writing spaces and makeshift book covers.
Go Teen Writers is great. Jill and Stephanie do an awesome job, and are always in touch when you want to talk to them. Thank you so much for being awesome!
#5. MAKE COVER ART, OR DRAW PICTURES FROM YOUR BOOK
What is writing, really? Writing is taking pictures in your head and describing what you, as the author, see. Writing is putting together jumbles of words and creating people and worlds that live inside you.
But words don't always have to be the only way to get those visuals out. Draw. Paint. Photoshop. Whatever you have to do, bring your world to life so other people can see it. Make a cover for your book, even if you don't end up using it. I made my cover in February, and two months later it's the cover of my proof copy and everyone who sees it gives me great feedback.
This is your story. Draw a picture and show us what you see before someone else decides to see it for you.
|Eddie Utherwise (click for link)|
Copypright 2011 Thomas Taylor
#6. REVISE...REVISE...EDIT...AND GET CRITIQUED
What's the difference between "revision" and "editing?"
Okay, revision is taking your story and working with the plot, adjusting scenes, changing pace, crafting the story from the first draft...or the second draft...or however many drafts it takes to tell the story how you want it to be told. I've still got lots of work to do tweaking things here and there and making Embassy juuuust right.
Editing is stuff like grammar, punctuation, spelling, finding that missing word...your basic proofreading stuff. Pay attention, and have several pairs of eyes look at your work. Seriously, once you get past the fear of people hating what you write, you'll find that comments and suggestions are the best way of editing and revising a story, and I mean THE BEST way.
If you want to publish a book, that means you want hundreds or thousands of people to see it. So start small and get a general opinion. You'll thank yourself later. And people in writing groups love to help as long as you help them.
#7. TAKE TIME TO YOURSELF...AWAY FROM WRITING
Me? I go for long bike rides alongside Pittsburgh's three rivers. The wind and trees and ducks and geese and sights and people and the Pittsburgh skyline are wonderful. Biking, or going for walks, or sitting in the middle of Market Square lets me empty my mind and just feel at ease. I don't have to think about writing. I don't have to feel stress. I can just be.
Everyone needs a break. Do yourself a favor and do something you love besides writing. Inspiration will come from the simplest places when you aren't even looking, and stick with you when you leave.
#8. TAKE TIME TO BE WITH FRIENDS...AND DON'T TALK ABOUT YOUR WRITING
Unless, of course that's what you and your friends do. But my friends and I will play soccer, or Mario Kart, or Frisbee, or walk Downtown, or grab some coffee or a bite to eat, or watch baseball. Doing this helps you because you can experience society and interaction and guess what? That will help you write better books!
#9. READ, READ, READ, READ, READ
"But I don't have time to read if I'm writing and hanging out with friends!"
Ahem. Excuse me? I think it was Stephen King who said: "If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." Why do you want to write? So other people can read what you wrote, and to express yourself.
Study what works. Don't look at one book, look at many. See the various forms, line structures, elements, character interactions, dialogue sequences...everything. Adapt and create your form.
Published books are published for a reason. Successful books are read for a reason. Blockbuster books are known by millions for a reason. That author wrote something that worked.
#10. DON'T EVER BE AFRAID
Yes, this is similar to #1 and is last for reason. I want to leave you thinking: What can I do, and what could I have done? The world of writing is probably the hardest job out there. Success is NEVER guaranteed. Publication is NEVER guaranteed. Writing the next blockbuster NYT Best Seller is NEVER guaranteed. But none of that will ever happen if you don't try.
Get out there and be shameless. If you are writing, make sure people know. I tell everyone I can. Random strangers I meet at the airport, people walking Downtown, my professors, friends, friends of friends....the point is to not care. You'll write better if you know people will read it. If you hide it away all the time and don't let anyone see it, no one is going to care, EVER. It's nerve-racking, telling people you wrote a book. But once they see you've actually written one, they WILL be astounded. I speak from personal experience.
And remember, if you write because you want to, and tell people about it, you'll have readers. If you have readers, they'll help you by offering suggestions and comments. If they're helping you, you're becoming a better writer. If you're becoming a better writer, people will CONTINUE to read what you write.
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While you're at it, check out my New Adult Science-fiction novel, Embassy.