Post by Positive Writer contributor The Magic Violinist
With all the information we have at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start and what to do and how to remember it all when it comes to writing. You might read eight different articles in a morning, all with various advice, and struggle to keep it at the forefront of your mind as you go about your day.
Because of this, I’ve compiled a list of 17 writing lessons you can access in one spot. These are all tips that have resonated with me recently, and hopefully, they make a difference with your writing, too.
- Write for you.
This was the first thing I wrote about for “Positive Writer.” Don’t try to please everybody else. You’ll just make yourself crazy. Write what you love and write for you.
- Write every day.
On days with more free time, write pages and pages. On busier days, a few paragraphs. On the extraordinarily busy days, a sentence. That’s all it takes. Just a few taps of a keyboard or scribbles of a pencil every day to stay in the habit.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
Your personal goals are different from the goals of others. Your capabilities, circumstances, habits, all of those things will be different. If you’re over the moon because you finally filled a page but somebody else wrote fifty in that same amount of time, don’t let that get you down. If your accomplishment makes you happy, you did something great.
- Try writing in different genres.
You never know what’ll spark your interest. Maybe poetry was never something you thought to try. Write a few stanzas. Who knows? You might have an affinity for it.
- If you’re going to procrastinate, use that time wisely.
We all procrastinate. Don’t try to deny it. Some of us may do it more than others (I certainly procrastinate more than I should), but it happens to all of us. When you do procrastinate, though, do something else that’s productive. That means closing Facebook and Twitter and picking up a book or taking the dog for a walk.
- Reach out to writers and authors online and in your community.
Find a critique group at a local library or coffee shop. Say hi to that blogger you admire. Writing can be a solitary or even lonely activity, but it definitely doesn’t need to be. The writing community is alive and thriving. Make yourself a part of it.
- A critique of your writing is not a critique of you.
Once in a while, a critique of your work can sting a little. Or a lot. Especially if it paints something you thought was amazing in a negative light. The important thing to remember is that just because someone didn’t like something you created doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. And it certainly doesn’t mean everything you write will be horrible and you should give up now. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on.
- It’s okay to be in a writing slump.
You can’t always write the next bestseller. Sometimes for weeks at a time, everything I put on paper is garbage. I might hate my current work in progress. Nothing I do keeps my interest. All of that is perfectly fine. Just put something on paper. Hate every minute of it, if you must. The only way to get out of the slump is to claw your way out, word by word.
- Read, read, read.
Read widely and read often. Read good work and terrible work. Read classics and poetry, but also read children’s books and whatever’s popular. Read something short and something long. Read articles and fan-fiction. Re-read your favorite book. Read something in your genre. Read, read, read, and learn from it.
- Your writing will not be loved by everyone.
Don’t send yourself into a never-ending spiral of negativity by trying to please everyone. You won’t. Some people will hate what you write. That’s okay. Don’t some people hate your favorite book? Of course they do, but their dislike of the book doesn’t diminish your love for it. Your writing will be loved by those who need to read it most.
- Good work takes time, energy, and multiple drafts.
My best writing has come out of the projects that have been hardest for me to finish. It could take years of effort to complete something work sending out into the world. It won’t always be enjoyable trying to polish something up, but it’s always satisfying to make progress. It’s worth it in the end.
- There’s nothing like a little music to get the creative juices flowing.
It doesn’t matter what kind of music so long as it inspires you. The lyrics tell a story. The composition tells a story. Sometimes those stories are the hidden, not-so-obvious ones. Tell those stories.
- The best ideas come to you when you’re supposed to be doing something else.
Don’t necessarily take this advice, but reassurance. If you feel like your work is stale and repetitive, don’t worry. A new and interesting idea will come to you eventually. It just might happen while you’re doing the dishes or homework. Make sure you always have pen and paper nearby for those situations.
- You will make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them.
I won’t even try to list possible mistakes because there are so many, but you’ll make at least of one those. It won’t be fun, and it might take a while to stop obsessing over it, but you’ll move on and learn how to avoid making that mistake again.
- Be on the lookout for opportunities and go after them, even if you think you don’t have a shot.
I got my first regular writing position at twelve. When I applied for the job, I didn’t believe my age would be an issue, because no one had ever told me it could be. Now, I was lucky to have supportive parents who never tried to discourage me, even if they might have thought I was a little young to do what I was trying to do.
If you do have those doubts, whether they stem from yourself or others, try your best to block them out. Apply for internships and enter writing contests. Sometimes your greatest achievements come from those you thought were least likely to happen.
- Have other creative outlets besides writing.
It’s important to stay creative and keep thinking like an artist, even if writing is going so well for you in the moment. Have something else you can turn to during those times. Sing, dance, act, draw, knit, sculpt, sew, paint, cook. What interests you?
- Your writing is better than you think it is.
We are our own worst critics. Our writing might bore us sometimes because we’ve been working on it for such a long time. The plot twists seem predictable because we came up with them. Our characters aren’t interesting because we have to spend time with them day after day after day. As scary as it can be, sometimes showing your writing to a trusted friend is the best thing you can do for yourself.
You have people in your corner cheering you on, and those people love nothing more than to read what you’ve written and shout from the rooftops about how talented you are. Your work is not as bad as it seems. Take a step back and really look. You created that, and there are so many great things about it.
What writing lesson sticks with you? Leave a comment!