Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ten Quick Tips for Writers

By Lea Schizas

At times all we need is someone to point the way, to motivate us when we’re feeling as though our writing world is crashing down on us. In other words, a soft but loving butt-kick. Here are some tips to help you out.

  1. There’s a reason why you keep reading this over and over again in almost every writing how-to book: read, read, and then read some more. The fact is, the more you read the more you pick up various authors’ styles—the way they string words together, the way they use the five senses to create ambiance/emotion, the way they bring their imaginary world to life by their descriptive details, and captivating characters. Reading is part of the educational process in order for you to grow as a writer. And I’m not saying to copy them, but to study them. What is it about their writing that pulls you in? Knowing the answer helps you to work on your own style and perfect areas where you want readers to be just as enthralled as you are with your favorite author.

  1. When you feel as though you’ve hit a brick wall (avoid clichés--do as I say and not what I do) then put down your manuscript and walk away for a spell. A bit of distance to clear your mind allows you to come back refreshed and not story blind. Sit there by the computer's white screen blaring at you and maybe you'll hypnotize yourself with a grand idea...Not!

  1. When looking over your manuscript, look at it objectively. Put away your writer’s hat and wear your reader’s chapeau. Is your work fully fleshed out? Are your characters believable, and do they stand apart from secondary ones? Does the setting make an impression on you? Can you tell what period the story is set? Is there clarity in your sentences [as writers we tend to know what we want to transmit to the reader but at times we fall short]. Are there any foreshadows unresolved? Is the ending satisfying or does it feel like a quick bandage fix? Give the final draft to beta readers and ask them those questions I just penned and see if they get your story.

  1. Don’t wait until your book is published to begin marketing yourself or the book. Build yourself a website/blog/social network page and begin promoting yourself, or rather, brand yourself as a writer. Write articles/stories and sub them to various outlets. Get some publishing credits. You need to begin the hype about your book, but more importantly, YOU, before it's released. 

  1. Begin researching various publishers suitable for your book now. At the same time, research agents who deal with your genre. Don’t waste your time and theirs by submitting a manuscript not suitable for them. READ guidelines carefully and adhere to them.

  1. Rejections are part of a writer’s life. Get over it.

  1. Did I mention to read, read, and then read some more?

  1. Remember why you write and have fun. Don’t give yourself ridiculous deadlines or goal plans. Think through your commitments before you accept them. What do I mean? If you work a 14 hour shift almost every day and then commit to writing 4 hours a day, let’s just say that is going to fall into Niagara Falls quicker than you can blink. Knowing your lifestyle, pick goals or rather break your writing schedule to something more attainable, like a half to an hour a day. I prefer time limits than word counts because I don't feel pressured to write an X amount of words. Then again, every writer has their own preference. Just don’t push yourself to fail and feel miserable by giving yourself unattainable schedules. Once you feel the half hour or hour is a piece of cake, up your time. I can see many now who write for three/four/ten hours a day frowning at me but as I wrote, everyone's commitments and can-dos are not alike.

  1. Join a writer’s group and/or a critique group. They are valuable areas to help you fine-tune your writing. Plus, a great resource to ask questions and help one another.

  1. Don’t sit and think too much about what to write next. There are different methods for different writers and you need to figure out if you are:

A-   the type who needs to outline the whole story before you write or

B-    the one who writes the whole story while it’s fresh in your head and then worries about the filling in stage [narrative/taglines/five senses/plot building, etc.] and editing.

I fall in the B category. My first drafts all look like screenplays and directions. But that's just me. You go with whatever best suits you with less stress. Everyone has an opinion out there: must do this or that...I say all that matters is your writing moving forward. So if you want to outline a half hour a day, go for it. If you want to commit to writing 10k words a day, go for it. Just give yourself reasonable goals and schedules. After all, you know your own time schedule, family and outside commitments, and what time you need to hit the sack. 


Now open that door and yell:


Thank you for joining me today.  
Stay tuned for news of my 2016 upcoming non-fiction book:  
Building a Tough Writer's Shell: A motivational butt-kicking adventure to prepare & toughen your writer's skin!

1 comment:

Susan Bernhardt said...

This was a great post, Lea with great advice. I'm also one who writes the entire story out while it's in my head and then edit later.

I agree writing should be fun, otherwise I wouldn't write.