This is a poster from AllPosters.com and I have it right above my desk so I can look up at it in despair at any moment when my muse has forsaken me. And by forsaken I mean escaped, because I have her chained to my desk most of the times.
I really like this poster because it shows simple tips yet important tips.
The tips are pretty self-explanatory but I’d like to say something about them with regard to my personal experiences.
- If you write every day, you get better at writing every day.
Basically, this means that you should write something every day and make it a habit. I try to live up to this rule, but I have to admit I don’t always write every day. In all fairness, I had school and now that I have my holiday I really need to unwind from all the stress, but when things were calmer at school I wrote every day (I even entered NaNoWriMo and finished one day early, despite all my homework). So I can recommend this tip to everyone. Even when you’re busy or your mind feels like a puddle of blegh, just write one sentence. Even if it is crap. For some reason it keeps you in the zone and if you become a full-time writer the skill of staying-in-the-zone will come very much in hand.
- If it’s boring to you, it’s boring to your reader.
Right, so you write every single day like the good little girl of boy that you are, but you find yourself making up stuff just to keep going and as you write it becomes more like a drag. If writing is your job, then sometimes it will feel like a job. Personally I think it’s okay if you don’t really ‘feel’ it, but that is because with me it doesn’t affect my writing, just my mood. It does make me a lot slower in writing and what I usually do is go back to the beginning and read it. This way I get excited about my story again and feel like I’m in ‘the zone’. If you read and you do find yourself being bored by a particular part, then it is usually a good idea to change it, because in that case it will also be boring to your reader.
- Get a writing routine and stick with it.
This one is similar to number one and basically means that you should get a writing routine and stick with it. Surprising, I know. Anyway, this one is pretty clear. I don’t have writing routine. Unless when just writing is a routine. If you are a full-time writer, I suppose a writing routine is key. But I imagine it exists of writing during the day, from a certain time until around dinner time. I do have a schedule up on my white board that says what I want to finish, usually it’s per chapter, so I try to finish one chapter per two days. I write, sometimes get a drink, go to the bathroom and take a little break by surfing the web or watching one of my series. I don’t really think of it as a routine, it’s just writing. So forget any sort of structure, just write and stick with that!
- Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.
Ah, poetry. I can actually take poetry as a course for my Master, but I’m not sure if I want to do that. Poetry has always been one of my hobbies, even before writing fiction, but I don’t think I want to study it. Poetry, in my opinion, is so personal and I write it more for me than any reader, so I’m afraid if I take that course that it will suck the fun right out of it. Anyway, the tip itself is pretty clear. Poetry knows no boundaries. Kind of the same with writing. You’re the God(dess) of your own universe.
- Resist stereotypes.
Very important tip! Indeed also in real life. Stereotypes are based on truth, but when it comes to people, there is no general truth because people are too different for that. Too unique. With writing you want to create uniqueness, even for minor characters because they all have something in common; you want to bring them to life. In order to do that, you have to show their ‘realness’, which in turn leads to uniqueness and the many different aspects that go with it. So even though stereotypes are easy because everybody recognises them, it’s just the easy way out. Sometimes, stereotypes can help if you want to portray them in a shallow way, but I doubt many writers would want that. There should always be some depth in a character or even an unexpected characteristic that makes you wonder about this person. So generally speaking, if a stereotypical character pops up in your head, knock him unconcious and throw him out. Only let him back in if he’s got a real personality.
- Writers read.
What you write, will be read…hopefully. So it’s important to know what is out there and the only way you can find out is by reading. Nobody wants to write something that’s already been written before. (Unless when it’s a huge improvement on the original idea). Eitherway, reading is a way to learn from authors and to see what they are doing and most importantly…how.
- Make lists of your favourite words, places etc.
I’m not really big on making lists. At all. I do get the point though. It keeps you writing and it is a great way to generate ideas!
- There doesn’t always have to be a moral to the story.
Sure, it’s nice to have a story with a message, one that makes you think, but sometimes it’s just nice to escape. As a writer, you can do both, but you don’t necessarily have to do both. Have fun. Write what’s in your heart. Hang on to your imagination and let it take you to places far, far away! At least, that’s what I do.
- Always bring your notebook and a spare pen.
If you’re always going to write, bring something to write with. Personally, I’m addicted to things like notebooks, pens and post-its. With really pretty notebooks I use a pencil so I can erase everything and start over. I’ll probably never do it, but it’s nice to know I can.
- Go for walks. Dance. Pull weeds. Do the dishes. Write about it.
Alright, these tips might be a bit repetitional, but at least the focus is in the right place. Write about everything. Especially everyday stuff. Why? Writing is about life, even if it involves werewolves and vampires, it always features aspects of normal life. Also, writing about going for a walk or doing the dishes might spark some ideas. It’s a good writing exercise. Personally, I use it to tune up my description skills.
- Don’t settle on just one style.
I think from my first post it’s pretty clear I already do that and I highly recommend doing it. Trying new styles is fun and even if you find out something is not for you, you will still have learned something.
- Learn to tell both sides of the story.
This is my favourite tip, because I always get so frustrated when there is a bad guy that is so utterly bad, without the explanation as to why or anything else that gives him depth. Writing is about exploring and I have always had the desire to understand things, the need to know. If there is a character I can’t understand, then I get frustrated and stop caring. If someone is the worst person in the world and I understand where that comes from then I can accept that person and I don’t mind reading about him. People aren’t just black or white, they’re many shades of grey. So should characters be.
12.5 Stop looking at this poster.
Back to the main tip of the poster. Just shut up and write! Write now.