TIPS FOR WRITERS
1. Write Every Day.
The most important thing for a writer to do is to write. Write every
day. It’s best to set aside a particular time of the day (or night) for
your writing time. Find the time that is best for you, and then write during
that time every day. Let nothing interfere with your writing time.
It may be as little as one single hour. You may produce only
a page or two. But if you stick with it every day, week after week, your
output of pages will mount up inevitably.
Don’t worry if you have an occasional day when you can’t produce
even one decent page. Stay at it! Try your best every day. The words will
It is so easy to find a reason for not writing. Writing is
hard work. It’s much easier to do something else. Especially if you have
a “real” job that demands eight hours a day or more, it is difficult to
make time for writing. Yet that is precisely what you must do. Make the
time. Writers don’t “find” time for writing; they make the time for their
writing and they do so every day.
Family, friends, job, all the other pleasures and obligations
of your life must take second place to your writing. If you are going to
be a successful writer you must write. Every day. Preferably at the same
time every day.
2. Read Widely.
The most important thing a writer can do, aside of writing, is reading.
Books are the memory of the human race. Thanks to our invention of writing
you can share the thoughts of the greatest minds that ever lived.
Not that you should restrict yourself to
someone else’s idea of what the Great Books are.
Read what you enjoy. But make certain that
you don’t confine yourself to one narrow type of book. Read as widely as
you can: fiction, history, biographies, travel tales, books about science,
religion, philosophy – read everything and anything that interests you.
Your imagination will be enriched. Your curiosity will be excited. Your
knowledge will grow.
Once you’ve read a book and particularly enjoyed it, go back
and read it again. This time, though, try to discover how the author tackled
the problems of telling his or her story. Whether the work is fiction or
fact, the author had to make hundreds of choices about constructing that
story. Read carefully and see where you might have made a different choice,
emphasized a different facet of the tale, shaded things a bit brighter
or darker, moved a segment closer to the beginning or farther back toward
You can learn a lot by reading and then analyzing what you’ve
3. Write About WHO You Know.
Beginning writers are always told, “Writer about what you know.”
This is good advice. It’s difficult to make a believable story about trekking
across the Sahara if you’ve never been on a desert journey, although to
some extent you can acquire knowledge from reading. Knowledge – not first-hand
It is equally important – more important, in fact – to write
about who you know. After all, characters are the heart of fiction. Without
strong, believable characters you cannot build a strong, believable story.
Even if you actually have trekked across the Sahara and can write with
first-hand experience, unless your story is built around interesting characters
you will end with a travelogue, not a salable piece of fiction.
Characters are all around you. Just as a painter or a sculptor
uses models, a writer can and should develop story characters from real,
living men and women.
Most likely you will find yourself blending individuals you
know into a composite character, using several different models to serve
as the basis for a character in your story. After all, you’re not trying
to draw a portrait, you’re trying to create a fictional character. (Of
course, if you are trying to draw a word portrait, then stick to your model
as closely as you can.)
You will find that, inevitably, your chief model will be yourself.
The protagonists of your stories – the main characters – will have a large
dose of your own personality in them. That’s quite natural. Who do you
know better than yourself?
But keep on studying all those wonderful, diverse people around
you. They are a rich and endless bounty of models for the characters you
will write about. Their problems, their loves and hates, joys and sorrows,
hopes and fears are the raw material for your stories.
reply to an emailed question)
question, "Am I writer?" is irrelevant.
The real question is, do you
want to write?
Writers write. You get up every morning and hit that
You get the words down and build stories.
have to do other things to keep groceries in the pantry, but
above and beyond everything else, you write.
Every day. Despite all
the disappointments, despite all the obstacles, you write.
As you write, you learn.
You create characters and give
them problems and make them work to solve their problems.
your stories out to market and keep sending them until somebody starts
to publish them.
But the stark fact is that no one can know if
you're a writer - you won't know it yourself - until you have written
well enough to be published...
Frankly, most people give up.
Writing is hard, lonely work and they get tired of it.
But every successful writer starts exactly
where you are now, and succeeds by writing and writing and writing until
they get published regularly.
Learn. Write every
Read and learn from published writers.
Work at it every
There's no other way to become a writer.