This is a question I get asked often (at least once a week), so I’m reposting this from FB. Next time I answer it, all I’ll have to do is send this link. I’m all about efficiency.
Friend: Do you have any writing tips for me? I don’t even know where to start.
Dicey: *I am no expert, and I hardly consider myself a “successful” writer, but for some friends, I am the only one they know personally who has taken this dream of writing/publishing books and run with it. In that regard, they consider me an inspiration. I am humbled by that, and do not take it lightly. So I answer their questions as best I can…after giving my disclaimer. These are my tips on how to get started with writing a book. Feel free to share yours in a comment below.*
#1: Read a lot of books. Most successful (more so than me) writers will tell you this is the biggest factor in being a good writer. If you want to write fiction, you should probably stick to reading fiction. Just mix up the genre a bit. See who writes in the way you aspire to and learn from them by absorbing how they do it. Then tweak it until you’ve formed your own style.
#2: Be passionate about writing, and be passionate about the story you want to write. This will get you through writing slumps, being harsh on yourself when things aren’t going exactly how you want them to, and those times when you feel alone in marketing/promoting the work you’ve labored over but it’s not getting the support and attention it deserves. In order to be a good writer, it can’t be a passing fancy or just something you want to try. You have to feel in your heart that it’s a part of you.
#3: Write every day. Even when I’m not working on a book, I’m finding a way to put my thoughts into written word via blogging (more like Facebooking, these days), long debates on social media, emails, forums, you name it. When being a writer is who you are, you won’t have any other choice but to write. Do it daily.
#4: Get organized (writing space, materials, scheduling) and prepare to spend lots of time on each writing project. When it comes to organizing your writing, you’ll have to try different methods and see which one fits you best. Some outline their book ahead of time. Others write as they go. Maybe start with an outline and see how that works. Either way, START writing your book, and most importantly–FINISH it.
#5: Read a “how to write” guide, if you really have difficulty starting. I haven’t read it, but a lot of writers swear by Stephen King’s manual On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: http://amzn.to/1wAAT57 He’s certainly waaaay more successful at writing than I am, so it’s probably worth checking out. You can read his top 20 rules for writers here.