Harsh Writing Advice You Didn’t Ask For

Photo by Frame Harirak on Unsplash
  1. There is no right time to get into writing. Always wanted to write? Then do it. It’s not like you have to sit at a desk for an hour every day. Just write for ten minutes. Five even. Write one sentence. You could have an entire year off to write your book, but if you haven’t been writing consistently, you probably won’t find yourself sitting at a desk for hours when you do have it. ⁣
  2. Stop saving your “good” story ideas for when you’re a better writer. You probably won’t become a better writer by writing things you don’t care about. And your good story idea probably isn’t as great as you think it is.⁣
  3. Related: Don’t cling to one story idea as if it is “the one.” You are more than one story idea, I promise. Don’t spend a decade trying to make one idea work. Move on. You can always come back to it. It’s not going anywhere. ⁣
  4. Goal-setting is not as important as you think it is. What matters is your writing system — AKA the writing routine. By writing routine, I mean consistently sitting down to write. This doesn’t have to mean every day. It doesn’t have to be for a long time. You don’t have to have a weird ritual. You just have to make writing part of your life. Two writers can share the same goal of writing a novel in a year. One does it, the other doesn’t. The difference between the writers? One had a better writing system. They did the writing. Setting goals doesn’t get the work done. ⁣
  5. You don’t need to get good at writing short stories to write a novel. Short stories are not “practice” for writing novels. Have an idea for a novel? Then write the novel. Want to “practice” something that will help you with both? Practice writing scenes. ⁣
  6. You are probably holding back too much in your writing. Write the most exciting, ridiculous, indulgent thing you can think of. Get excited. Find sharp-eyed friends who love you, know you are a good person, and are honest. Have them tell you if something is “too much.”⁣
  7. Stop wondering if you can do something in writing. (This is for you, people of writing Reddit.) Can you write in multiple tenses? POVS? Can you make the villain the love interest? Can you XYZ? Yes. You are literally making this stuff up. You can do whatever you want. Is it a good idea? I don’t know. Will it sell? Couldn’t tell you. SHOULD you do it? Again, I don’t know. But CAN you do it? Yeah, you can do whatever you want.⁣
  8. Collaboration is a necessary part of writing: with critique partners, beta readers, editors, etc. There is right or wrong time to include other people in the writing process. I have readers who read my outlines, my first drafts, listen to rambling voice notes, etc. It doesn’t taint the integrity of my work. It helps my work. You might need to protect those early drafts to get through them, that’s fine. But if you want to get feedback early, get feedback early. ⁣
  9. You must read in your genre. Writing a paranormal romance? You need to read paranormal romance. Some people can’t read in their genre while they are drafting, that’s fine. That’s not what I’m talking about. Read before you draft then. But every genre has rules you might not be aware of, and you need to find out what those are — so you can follow them, subvert them, whatever. But you need to know what’s going on in your genre.⁣
  10. Don’t be afraid of craft books. You don’t need to use their advice, but they will prompt you to examine your work, and the work of others, with a more critical eye. I know you’re an “artist” and you don’t want to write a “formulaic” book. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them, even. Even the most artistic homes have to follow the laws of physics. You should learn as much as you can about architecture, even if you plan to throw it out the metaphorical window. ⁣
  11. Bonus tip: Most readers won’t give a crap about your amazing plot if they don’t care about the characters. ⁣

Check out my debut novel: Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships, out November 23rd, 2021 with Berkley Romance. Learn More at sarahruizwrites.com

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