Top Ten Tips for Writing
1. Read. Watch TV. Go see a movie. Interact with the stories you see being told by critiquing what was done well and what was done poorly in each. By interacting with the stories others have crafted, you’ll learn a lot not only about how to construct a good story as well as what sort of stories are being told right now, but you’ll also learn about your own style of writing.
2. For each new book, figure out when you work best. I’ve had novels that only seemed to flow if I was working on them at 2 am in the afternoon and others where getting to work 45 minutes early (around 6am) could earn me 1500 words a day. Don’t expect to always write at the same time for every novel. Circumstances change; your writing should be flexible enough to change with them.
3. Similarly, figure out where you write best for each novel. Do you write best at home? At work? Headphones on but no music? In a public place, like a coffee house or restaurant? Each novel will draw on different inspirations. Keeping your muse amused is your best bet for writing without issue.
4. When issues do arrive, take time away from your keyboard. Slamming your head against the keys, forcing it, just makes for bad writing. Try to write past it. If it doesn’t work, call a friend, head for coffee or a walk and let your mind dwell on it for a while.
5. Also, remember your friends when you’re writing. ‘We’ are smarter, wiser and more intelligent than you will ever be on your own. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ll be 100% stumped and blocked, told my husband about it and had him provide a perfect way out for the characters. Use your friends and family whenever you need help.
6. Find a writing program you enjoy and use it. If Scrivener helps you write, use it. If Word is your thing, go for it. If you need a typewriter in a dark room, lit by candles, it's still valid. Whatever you use, find out about its ins and outs, tips and tricks, so that you can concentrate on your story when you sit down, not the program or technology you’re using to write it.
7. Writing is hard. Don’t berate yourself over it. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s(Que Baz Luhrmann’s Wear Sunscreen). Seriously, though, allow yourself to make mistakes. Especially for people who don’t plan every detail of their novels in advance, sometimes a mistake can lead your story not only back on track, but to an even better place than you’d originally thought.
8. Find a friend to keep you on task. However, a critical component of this is having something that you need to keep them on task for as well. Whether it's writing, chores, or something equally unpleasant. Otherwise, every time your friend turns to you and asks, you’ll feel like it’s a nag and that isn’t fun or motivating.
9. Patricia Briggs once said that every writer needs a good 'Mike'. In a specific sense, she means her husband Mike, but in a less specific sense, she’s still entirely right. Her husband edits her work, keeps her on task, takes care of her when she’s writing and can’t take care of herself. He keeps their web page active, keeps track of their online shipping and does all the heavy lifting and carrying for her when they travel to conventions and the such for work. Whether your ‘Mike’ is a husband, wife, good friend, or family member, there may be many like it, but that one will be yours.
10. You can polish shit writing into gold. Trust me, I’ve done written the dullest of turds before. But you can’t edit an empty page. If you are writing and it isn’t working, you have just learned one way, not to write this scene. You have still learned something and you can apply that lesson to all of your future works.