Reading About Writing by Maya Tyler
There is so much advice out there about writing. Especially if you use Twitter. #writetip #writing There is an amazing sense of community among writers.
I recently joined the world of Twitter and I tend to read and re-tweet a lot of articles and tips on writing. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to write. You could spend all your spare time reading books and articles on writing. And not writing. I don't have a lot of spare time. I spend the prerequisite time on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads) and blogging. Then it's real writing time. With the approximately five minutes I have left for me. But there is a lot of awesome advice out there. Here (in the Reader's Digest version) is some of the top advice I found most applicable to me. In no particular order.
Follow the rules. Whether it's grammer or physics, there are rules in place for a reason. I recently read that you shouldn't break writing rules unless you understand them first. And, basic things like font type and size, and margin width should always be applied. The first line of editors in the publishing world already have a ton of manuscripts to review. They are looking for any reason to reject yours. Don't let it be formatting.
Be honest. Honesty in writing is more about being true to your characters than anything else. I use a character-led approach and sometimes we have differences of opinion. Following their lead results in a more natural story. Going against the grain, trying to force something will only make your story seem awkward. Or worse, it could stall or even end it. But you have to write what you are comfortable with. If you want to steer away from a steamy sex scene, then you need to shut the bedroom door.
Write for four hours a day. This is a good idea in theory. I wish I had four hours a day to write. Unfortunately, in this stage of my life, I don't. A day job plus two young kids equals zero free time. I love my husband and my kids though. We have so much fun together and I wouldn't change a thing! So I write in five and ten minute intervals. Sometimes a little longer. I write during my lunch break at work and sometimes right after the kids go to bed. It's working for me. I have about 32k words in my current WIP.
Complete your first draft within three months. When a story idea hits me, I need to go with it. The flow starts off strong and, as time goes on, it becomes harder to write, to remember what I wanted to say, to even finish a story. I start doubting the strength of the idea and, often, I give up competely. When I read this tip, I thought that it is so true. I started my latest project two months ago and I plan to have a first draft within the next month. Editing is the hard work anyway.
Your characters are a part of you and your life. Whether you realize this or consciously insert parts of your life and personality into your creations, you have used your life experiences to fuel the credibility of your story. You may actually realize things about yourself that you didn't know.
Writing is therapy. Okay you've infused your life and experience into your story. Now for the Psychology 101. Why? Your diabolical boss is driving you crazy at work, you create an evil witch. Your sister has control issues, you develop an overprotective mother figure. It's a way to process things that are going on in your life, sometimes at a subconscious level. When I was a teenager I used to write poetry. Even when I look back, nearly twenty years later, I can still tell you which boy I had a crush on and explain all the symbolism I used. It was an outlet then and it's an outlet now. There is nothing more therapeutic than writing, especially blogging.
Blog. Or journal. Blogging is like keeping a public journal. I just write literally whatever I'm feeling at the moment. I don't get hung up on making perfect sentences. I just write. It is liberating. Being a writer is more than just writing though. First of all, you need something to write about. Second of all, you need to become a keen observer. Journaling or blogging helps to record what you observe.
Practice. How do you get better at anything? Write, write, write! Find your own style, get comfortable with the craft, push the limits. Practice makes perfect, right? Well, you may practice until your fingers are numb from typing, but that won't necessarily help you improve. You also need...
Critique partners. Someone who will give an honest, constructive opinion. Someone to add the commas you missed or tell you that you need more description in chapter three. Self-editing only takes you so far. A second pair of eyes is an essential part of the writing process.
Read. When you have time, read whatever you can get your hands on. In addition to being an enjoyable hobby, reading can be research. It can also influence what you write and the way you write. You've read three cowboy romances in a row and suddenly you are inspired to write one of your own.
You can read advice on any number of writing topics, but, at the end of the day, you must determine what works for you. Don't get hung up the all the 'shoulds' and 'should nots', just relax and tell the story you were meant to tell.