I am one of those people who has written and loved writing since they were a child, so this means I’ve written for a while now at a few stages in my life, including university (where I studied English and Creative Writing).
So here’s the top 5 lessons I’ve learned about writing over the years
- You’re better than you think
– imposter syndrome will be your number 1 enemy when you set out to take this writing thing a little more seriously, whether you’re writing a book to publish later, or for your blog, or social media. Can someone whose never been paid, or published legitimately call themselves a writer? Absolutely. If you are working in your spare time, writing in whatever capacity, then you’re a writer.
- Only you can write that story
– Doesn’t matter how clichéd, how full of tacky tropes or how rough the first draft is, only you can write it. Only you can put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write. No one else in the world has the words in your head. No one. Also, as a side note- I know that as a reader myself that I have read the same story, same plot, same tropes over and over, written by different authors- so you don’t need to be special or groundbreaking to have people who will love what you write.
- Words on the page are better than nothing at all
– Doesn’t matter if it’s shit, doesn’t matter if you’ll never show it to another soul, doesn’t matter how little you write- get some words on a page. Write for the sake of writing, write the next chapter even if it’ll need extensive editing later- just get it out. It’s that simple, to ‘be a writer’ you must, in essence, write.
- Read, read, read
– the biggest and best thing you can do as a writer, is to read as must as possible. Try as many different genres as you can, not just the one your WIP is set within. The best way you can learn how to be a better writer, is by reading.
- Show don’t tell is the worst advice
– my uni professors said it and it’s a line that gets bandied about on the internet all the time, however, it’s wrong. It reduces something complex into a useless phrase. How you narrate and show action is massively dependant on the POV you’re using and the style of narration. ‘Showing’ can have its benefits but it needs to fit. However, you’ll end up spending more time obsessing over how you are describing something using this vague definition of what’s wrong, than actually writing. Don’t spend time researching show don’t tell, spend time developing the voice behind your words.
My advice around writing always centralises on letting all those little anxieties go, ignoring all the noise online about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Also, after having studied this, there’s a certain pretentiousness that creeps in about ‘good’ literature, if you’re not comparable to Austen or Dickens, then you’re not worth reading. This is bullshit. Your writing doesn’t need to highbrow or groundbreaking for it to be worthwhile or worth publishing. Trust me, there is a ‘market’ for your writing out there.
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Some great tips here. I particularly loved #1. Most of my successes in writing have come from putting out work I thought was just terrible. But every time I did that, it was others who’d give me a chance—to be published, hired, what have you—that I didn’t think I had.
So ‘just write’ is really a piece of advice that’ll take you far, the only one you’ll ever need, if I’m honest. Thanks for this post!
I couldn’t agree more; the whole imposter thing really held me back when I was younger, especially at university- despite having written most of my life. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!