Tips for Aspiring Writers

Writers never stop developing their craft, but if you’re a new or aspiring writer, the Writers SA team have shared a few tips and techniques to help you along the way:

Write even when you’re not feeling it
Nora Roberts famously said, ‘You can’t edit a blank page’ and for some of us, if we waited for the muse to pay a visit, we’d never finish a book. So write when you might not be feeling it and edit and polish it later. —Bronwyn

Deal with your inner critic
You know that internal critic that doubts you as you try and write, that can get so bad you give up altogether? Put a piece of paper next to the story you’re working on and when that voice chimes in, write down its doubts on your ‘critic’ page: this might looks like ‘this bit doesn’t make sense’ or ‘but what happens if’ or ‘this section is rubbish and I doubt I’ll use it’. Give the critic a space to worry, and keep writing. —Melanie

Read. A lot.
There’s a great piece of writing advice from Zadie Smith: “when still a child, make sure you read a lot of books”. But don’t stop there. There are few things more instructive and inspirational than reading a well-written book, and it’s one of the most pleasurable ways to absorb skill and technical understating, and have fun doing it. —Lana

Use the pomodoro technique
Set yourself time limits rather than word limits. Set an alarm for 45 minutes, turn off all electronic distractions and write. When the alarm goes off, stop immediately and wander/stretch/snack for ten minutes. Do this four times. Stick to your alarm, and you’ll knock out in three hours what might have taken a whole day otherwise – then go enjoy well -deserved, guilt-free time off knowing you’ve achieved what you set out to.—Melanie

Edit in a different font
I don’t know the psychological explanation, but changing the formatting of your writing (font, size, colour) helps your brain to look at your work as a reader, and not a writer. —Lana

Write other things
Writing in other forms and genres stretches the writing muscle and brings fresh perspectives to our “normal” work. If you usually write fantasy, try writing some memoir. If you usually write technical blogs, try some poetry. You get the idea! —Alysha

10 minute timers
You know when you sit on your desk and think ‘I just can’t write today’? I put on a timer for 10 minutes and just write whatever comes into my head. Breaking writing time into manageable segments with no expectations is a good way to silence the inner critic and get the words flowing. Most times I find that I don’t want to stop when the timer goes off. —Lana

First drafts
Are just that. The first draft is you telling yourself the story, shaping it out in your mind: no one ever needs to see it. So it can be rough, experimental, or sketchy. Give yourself permission just to get words on the page; making them sound better comes later. —Lana

Rest & recover
The practice of writing doesn’t always look like sitting at a desk and pinning words to paper. Writing is also: reading, reflecting, planning, thinking, connecting ideas, getting stuck, solving problems, finding your audience, and so much more. Take time to rest and recover as part of your daily practice, and in between big projects. You’ll write better. —Alysha

Meet your people
Writing can be a weird solitary endeavour for the most part, so it’s important to meet up with other writers to ask questions, share wisdom, gain a sense of camaraderie, learn from diverse voices, or just geek out over grammar. Whether that’s a workshop, writing group, or networking event, it can make all the difference. —Lana

Any tips you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments.

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