Shelley Widhalm

Top 12 Writing Tips

In 52: A Writer's Life, Shelley Widhalm, Writing, Writing Processes on July 28, 2013 at 11:00 am

Over the years, I’ve collected notes about writing habits and the process of writing that I use for inspiration, especially when I feel discouraged.

Here are my top 12 writing tips:

• Write as much as you can, but not necessarily every day, especially if writing isn’t your full-time job. Set a writing quota with daily, weekly or monthly goals, such as writing three to four times a week, two hours each time (which is my new goal now that I’m almost finished with my latest novel writing project).

• Get rid of distractions in your life while you’re writing, and don’t invite in the critic. Both can keep you from writing by serving as excuses to not write or to invite in writer’s block.

• Don’t wait for inspiration. It can come to you when you’re already working. The more you practice writing, the easier it is for words and ideas to come to you.

• Have more awareness, using all the senses when making observations and creating scenes.

• Write when you’re not writing by describing what you see, hear and feel as a running mental description. Write down whatever seems compelling.

• Figure out what is most essential, most loved for you to write about. Write about what interests you, what you want to learn about and, of course, what you know.

• Cherish silence even in noisy environments to let the words come.

• Think about where your writing wants to go, realizing that, with fiction and poetry, you’re not in total control of it. Trust your subconscious to make connections your conscious mind isn’t ready to or won’t necessarily be able to make.

• Realize that rough or first drafts aren’t perfection on the first try. As you write, the story unfolds and isn’t readily formed until it’s written. Get the story down, then fine tune it with details, nuances and deepening of the plot, character and setting. Revise and revise again.

• Accept that writing is supposed to be hard.

• Focus on the process instead of the results. Enjoy that process.

• And, last but not least, read. Reading makes you a better writer.

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