Happy Tuesday Everyone
I have set Tuesdays aside as Tip Day or Tip Tuesday. Today's tips are for new writers or those who started out, like me, with little planning and have found themselves lost in a sea of disorganization. I am still learning about the life of a writer. More to the point, the work involved in being a full-time writer and do not be fooled, it is a huge amount of work.
The tips today are more of a (very) basic checklist. Each might seem obvious to you however, when you are starting anything new, even the basics are apt to elude you. This is not a complete list nor is it a set in stone way to get started. These tips come from my own experience when I first sat down with the intention of writing with the end goal to become a published author.
· Prepare for long & lonely hours
Being a writer can be lonely. Writers sit at a keyboard or in their quiet spot with tablet and pen for endless hours. Family and friends will want your attention. Life will demand your attention. It can be difficult to strike a balance between your writing and living your life. Difficult does not equate to impossible and so with a little forethought, your family and friends will learn your schedule. In time, they will come to respect your space.
Make a plan and stick to it barring any emergencies, of course. A wall calendar is good for this purpose. Hang it within easy sight of your chosen work area. Things to consider for your calendar would be:
1. Family obligations
2. Work schedule (day job)
3. Writing schedule
4. Time to spend on research
5. Rest (believe it or not, it helps to pencil in breaks)
The list will grow to fit your specific needs. Color-coding the calendar will make it easier to spot things simply by glancing at the calendar for a specific color. Bobby's soccer games might be blue while Susie's ballet lessons are pink. You get the idea.
· Set up a writing space
Some people are able to write at a desk piled high with junk mail, books, snack wrappers and spilled coffee while others need a dust free, sparkling clean and highly polished workspace. I tend toward the middle of the road with my own workspace. The best space is the space that makes you feel most comfortable. A comfortable chair is also essential. You will work better in a room with a door so that you can shut out any household noises.
Stock up on any supplies you need. For example, notepads, tablets, pens, pencils, printer ink, style guides, general reference books as well as those that pertain to the genre for which your story is intended.
It helps to have your favorite beverage and snacks well stocked. Trips out to the store in the middle of a writing session only serve to quiet the muse.
· Do your research
No matter what kind of book you are writing, research is imperative. Even the fiction novelist needs good research notes. If you mention the Tower of London in your book yet have never seen it, how can you be certain you have described it accurately? Research for historical fiction novels is a given but it is not the only genre writers that needs solid research. Believe me, readers notice that sort of thing.
· Keep a notebook
You never know when the next great idea will pop into your head. Having a notebook or small voice recorder will allow you to take notes no matter where you are when they come to you. Keep a record of things and people you see in your daily life that might translate well in your stories. A woman you see in the parking lot struggling to balance a baby on one hip, hang on to a toddler at her knee and a bag of groceries at the same time might spark an idea for a story about an overworked single mother. Few people are able to recall every detail of an idea that happened hours earlier.
· Write every day
Write something every day. If you have a day job, set aside an hour or two in the morning before work or in the evening after dinner. Commit to write something every single day. You will find that the more you write, the more you will write. On the days when you find difficult to move ahead in the story, write some character or scene description to get your creative juices flowing again.
When the muse beckons, write but do not neglect your life. A balanced approach is preferable in all things. Take time away from your desk to enjoy family and friends.
· Read books
You must read. Read in the genre you plan to write and then, read everything else. Once cannot write a novel without first, living and second, reading. Absorb, absorb, absorb - everything around you.
If you have not already figured it out, your first draft will not be perfect. In fact, it is likely to be far from it. That is okay. If you have a first draft of your novel, you have written an entire book! That is something to be proud of in itself. Take a break from writing. A few weeks should be enough time and then start editing and rewriting that book.
Still lost? Sitting down with an idea and little else is overwhelming for many. If that is true in your case, you will need to do an outline. Outlines help by keeping the writer on track. If you have your starting point, middle and the ending written out on a chart or in a tablet that you can refer during the writing process, the story is more likely to flow and make editing much easier when your story is finished. Not everyone can turn out a good book using the 'pantser' method. Many find themselves lost and confused without a guideline to follow. We will look at the habits of planners and 'pantsers' soon.