Writing is easy, and that’s why so many people are doing it. But the definition of writing successfully is different for everyone, and that’s why being successful in the industry is such a difficult thing to achieve. There quite simply isn’t a magic pill or answer. While a writers’ workshop can be infinitely helpful, it’s not the be all and end all for success. But there are some things that you can do to increase the likelihood that you will write successfully.
1. Schedule Time and Write Something Every Day.
Find your peak writing times! The best way to do this is to collect a wide variety of resources that will help you to write SOMETHING, Every. Single. Day. Consider resources such as:
Even fantastic writers fail if they cannot master the discipline of writing regularly. Once you identify your peak writing times, make a schedule that takes advantage of these. Be protective of this time. Don’t let even family members intrude upon it.
2. Create a Space to Write
Create yourself a writing haven. A place that is apart from or at least free from distractions that other members of the household may bring. It doesn’t have to be fancy or cost a lot of money. But make it a special place. Sacred.
3. Use Life as Your Inspiration
Writing is about sharing information with others, it’s about telling a story, it’s about perspective. It’s about life. To write successfully typically involves getting other people to read what you write. One of the best ways to keep your writing fresh and engaging is to observe real-life people and situations and use those notes to make your characters and stories come alive.
4. Read Voraciously
Read Regularly. The more you read, the better you will be able to see where other writers may have engaged you or lost you in the story. When you are reading, it’s important to pay attention to mechanics such as word selection, dialogue, sentence length, pacing, plotting, and character development. Being aware of these elements can help you write better. You will also begin to see patterns and will know instinctively what things work and what things don’t. All of this then shows in your writing.
Read about writing. Learn from those who have come before you and try not to make the same mistakes. Read about mechanics such as spelling, grammar, and word choice but also read about theory and inspiration. Read about how to write not just from those authors who got it right but also from those who admit to getting it wrong.
5. Know Your Message
Be clear at the start about what you want to say. The best way to do this is to reflect on why you are writing in the first place. Are you trying to share information with your reader, telling a story, or trying to inspire? Each of these purposes requires a different approach when writing. You may not always know what you’re going to write but the why is critical. If you can outline your writing before you start, it may help.
Once you’ve written your piece, make sure you are clear on what your story is about. Practice telling others about your story and perfect your pitch. The clearer you are about your message and what your writing is about, the better you will be able to market it to others.
6. Share Your Message with Others
Now that you know your message and have perfected your pitch, get used to putting your work out there. Use a good writers’ workshop that focuses on critique to get motivated, push outside your comfort zone, hear different ideas, and gain support and enthusiasm. Listen to feedback from others and do your best to learn from it. Take advantage of a second and more objective set of eyes to help you see what you might have missed in your editing.
7. Get the Mechanics Right
Every story, whether fiction or non-fiction, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Non-fiction work, even short articles have an introduction, some clear points, and a conclusion. Often good writers can be derailed by getting the mechanics wrong. Do what you can to make sure that the mechanics of your story don’t detract from your message.
- Practice seamlessly weaving backstory rather than “dumping” it during introductory pages
- Edit Systematically; create an editing checklist and use it when editing your work
- Watch for your “go to” words or phrases and swap them for less used words
- Check singular versus plural noun agreement
- Limit your use of adverbs
- Watch for frequently used words like “although, finally, again, just, another, back, etc.
- Choose your tense and be consistent (avoid passive voice)
- Watch for lapses in point of view (switching from 1st person to 2nd person, etc.)
- Follow Submission Guidelines
8.Prepare for Writer’s Block
Even the best writers can be devastated by writer’s block. It’s a real thing, and it can wreak havoc on your writing schedule and your self-esteem. I don’t know a writer alive who hasn’t experienced writer’s block on a regular basis. If this is a regular issue for you, find a writers’ workshop that specifically deals with busting writer’s block. The difference between being a beginning writer and a professional writer is how you deal with writer’s block:
- Allow for it in your work schedule and don’t panic when it hits
- Use tools and exercises to break the block.
- Do something else
- Freewrite or use word association
- Research your next article or chapter instead
- Retype or Rewrite
- Write about not writing (rant)
- Pick something and read
- Explain the problem you’re up against to a stuffed animal
9. Love What You Do
One of the main reasons many people write is because they enjoy it. When you are starting out, it’s easy to get sidetracked from that enjoyment. One of the key things you will learn in any writers’ workshop is to love what you do.
Will it always be joy and sunshine when you are writing? Nope. But you should love what you do most of the time. If you find yourself tearing your hair out daily, think about what it is that is driving you mad and do what you can to make writing enjoyable again.
Write for clients if you must make money from your writing. But make sure you also write for yourself and stay true to yourself when writing. You’ll find that the words come so much easier when you are doing something you love.
10. Face your Fear
The last tip that you will likely hear in a writers’ workshop is to face your fear. Some writers have a fear of failure, which is completely normal. Other writers have a fear of success or a fear of change—also normal.
When you are writing, the most empowering thing you can do is to face whatever fear you have and overcome it. You grow as a writer every time you overcome fear. The same is true for your characters if you are writing fiction. Your characters will be bolder and more realistic if you write about them facing their fears and overcoming them.
So, if you can’t afford to get into a writers’ workshop right now, do not despair.
Focus on mastering the 10 tips for beginners that I’ve outlined above. As you master these, you’ll find that your writing improves and when you do finally get to take that writers’ workshop, you’ll be even better prepared to learn everything that you can from it.