“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”
– Anne Lamott
How many times have you heard this: Get your butt in the chair and write. It sounds almost cliché, doesn’t it? People believe that writers are an ever-flowing fountain of ideas. We never struggle to get your character to their next battle. Poetry and song lyrics flow out of our pens with ease and simplicity. Well, those that believe this nonsense couldn’t be more wrong. Writers, just like those that enjoy simply reading, go through moments when we’re racking our brains. We have times when we struggle to get one word on the page — or one complete sentence.
But don’t give up. Don’t let your struggle with writing be your defeat. Don’t let yourself be swayed by negative critics. Instead, let the constructive criticism lift you up. In order to be successful in writing, you have to stay committed to writing. This is often much easier said than done; I have realized this many times over. But the techniques I’m about to share with you I have tried throughout my career as a writer. My recommendation is that you try each of them out. Should one of the methods not suit you, however, remember that one size doesn’t fit all. One author doesn’t reach success the same way another author of the same caliber. Authors which write in the same genre do not often share the same writing process. You have to be unique to you.
So having said that, let’s get started!
Above all else, you must read. If you’re a fiction writer, you must read books inside (and outside) your writing genre. Let’s say you write historical romance. You wouldn’t only read historical novels, nor would you only read romance novels. You would read novels across the board. Read thrillers, adventure stories and fictional stories based on real-life stories. Similarly, read a plentiful amount of non-fiction genres. If you’re well-read, this gives you a broader range of creativity.
Additionally, keeping a reading journal helps you keep notes of what you read. Keep track of words, dialogue tags and how other authors write their characters. Make notes of quotes that you found useful within a book. These may be spoken by characters (in fiction) or written by authors (in non-fiction). Keep tidbits of information on setting, action and conflict. As you’re writing, you can pull ideas from this journal. You can use these ideas to flourish your own writing and it will shine brighter as a result of it.
Join a writing group.
When I was first starting college, I attended a writing group at my local library. Many of these groups are full of writers just like you. They may be established in their writing, or they may be newbie writers working on their first book. But everyone in the group has a common goal: they want to help others achieve success.
Bring your writing to these groups. Engage and interact with their members. Do you struggle with the point of view, your subplots or proofreading your final draft? Surely there is someone that could help you here. If they can’t, many of these individuals are well-networked. They work in or around publishing agencies. The lady sitting next to you may be the executive producer at the six o’clock news. Another person at your table is the lead sports writer at your town’s newspaper. It’s not selfish to ask for help. Ask if you can use their connections to further your project.
Use post-it notes for positive affirmations.
Do you have a bulletin board by your desk? Purchase colorful post-it notes in fun shapes of just squares. Now, write positive affirmations on them to keep you motivated. Post the following affirmations somewhere around your writing area. Make sure you look at them every day. You are a successful writer. You have the ability to climb the best seller’s list — if you haven’t already done this. And, even if you have, you have more of a reason to stay there. Think positive and you will get much further in your writing.
- I am a proficient writer.
- I will become a best-selling author.
- Writer’s block will not overcome me today.
- I can see my book on the New York Times’ best sellers list.
- Rejections are just setbacks; I will get through it.
- There is a publication awaiting the book/article which I’m writing.
Create a schedule.
In order to create a finished book, you have to do the work. I started this blog post with the phrase “Get your butt in the chair and write.” While I’m not fond of the phrase, it has truth to it. You have to work at least a couple hours each day on your writing. Set small goals, such as getting your research completed or finishing your draft. Let these lead into bigger goals, such as having your book completed within 6-12 weeks. But commit to your writing. You have to treat it like a job. Show up and do the work. If you work from home, this means you work when your spouse and kids are out of the house. If you work shift work (such as 11 a.m.-7 p.m.), believe me—I know you’re dead on your feet when you walk in the door. That was me for nearly 13 years. But do what you can and try your best to stick to it. You have to be committed and soon you’ll be a published writer!
How do you commit to your writing? Leave tips and techniques in the comments below.