When I started out writing, I asked a writer friend, "What do I do now?" And lucky for me, she didn't ignore my email but replied with a novel of advice.
Recently, my FIL informed me he'd like to write a book. An inspirational bit based on what he's learned from life and business. Seeing as how I often turned to him for advice, I found it to be a grand idea. And with this new adventure, I feel the need to pass along some writerly advice.
1. Keep writing. If you have the time, put yourself on a writing schedule. But learn when you feel most productive. For me, its at night. Trust, when times get busy, you'll thank yourself for making it a priority.
2. Keep learning. Whether you're poor at grammar or your characters are tech savvy, you need to stay sharp and focused. Your info needs to be current and readers need to relate. Learning can be as simple as reading more books. Writers are readers first. We love books. So do something you love. Read.
3. You're not perfect. That first draft will be bad. Confront that realization now and learn from it. I have several manuscripts sitting in my computer that are dying a slow death. They are not great. That first sentence you write will need improvement. But as along as you realize that editing is a must and move on, you will survive. Get the words out. They are not set in stone. You can change them and mold them into something great.
4. Make writer friends. This is a tough business and the more writer people you surround yourself with, the better the journey can be. I was lucky to start out with a writer friend but per her advice, I put myself out there. Twitter, The Writing Cooler, FB. There I met some great people who I not only talk to today on a daily basis but we share our stuff and learn from each other.
5. Become a beta reader. I know, in your spare time when you're not trying to have a life, work, and write, I'm now telling you to read other peoples' work. Yes. I learn so much by reading and helping others. Sure, my first time out was TERRIBLE! The author was mean, arrogant and basically told me I sucked. But, I moved on and found better people. And you can, too.
6. Finish your manuscript. You can't share your work with the world unless you finish it.
7. Edit and then edit again. I have read a manuscript for a writer bestie of mine like 4 times! Granted, the story changed a few times but each round made it stronger and stronger. You know where that manuscript is now? Sitting in hardback form on my book shelf!
8. Know when to take a step back. I'll say this everyday of my life. Writing is hard. There are days when words will not flow. Characters will not cooperate and life takes the wheel. When this happens, step back from your writing. You need to live a life in order to write about life. So live it. Then pull your big girl panties back on (or boxers!) and write. Getting frustrated will only lead to anger and an unfinished manuscript.
I hope this little bit has inspired you. I know I feel recharged after writing it. Share what you learn with others and have a happy, productive, writery New Year!