It’s weird to think that it is officially a new year. 2013, as awesome as it was, is now over. Time to start planning for the year ahead!
I’m not really one for ‘New Year Resolutions’ because I’m the type of person who wants to start things immediately. If I want to change something or start something new, I want to do it NOW. I don’t want to wait until the New Year or the next Monday or the third Saturday in February when the moon is high and the tide is low. I’m all about the instant gratification. I am, however, one for goals. Goals come in lists, and we all know how I feel about lists (Spoiler Alert: I think they are as wonderful as Jared Leto’s hair, which is, obviously, oh so wonderful). Before you point out that resolutions also come in lists let me point out that it’s not the same. It just isn’t, okay? Don’t question my OCD. It has teeth.
One of my goals for 2014 is to write, write and write some more. We all know that the key to achieving your goals is to have a clear plan for how you are going to do it, so I thought I’d start 2014 by reviewing some of my personal favourite writing tips. It can be hard to stay motivated and keep moving forward at times, so this list will serve as my emergency-go-to when the RedBull just isn’t cutting it. Hopefully you’ll find something helpful in it for yourself, too :)
Write what you want to read.
When I was 9 and writing Goosebumps fan-fictions (although I didn’t know that’s what they were at the time), I could never finish a story. It was quite depressing really. Every time I finished reading a new book I’d be inspired to write my own story, and I’d race to my mum’s cupboard to steal one of her many stockpiled exercise books (because apparently there’d come a time when they’d stop making exercise books…? Why else would we have so many?) I’d sneak it into my room and turn it over in my hands, gazing adoringly at the glossy black cover with the rainbow on the front boasting ’96 lined pages’. It was magical to me. Those blank pages were filled with endless possibilities. When I held that empty book I was God, ready to create an entire universe and command it however I saw fit. I was going to write a book that would change the world.
Despite all my honourable intentions, by page 10 or 11 I inevitably gave up. Every single time. Why? Because I was bored. Yep. I was bored of my own story. You see, I absolutely hated the part where I was supposed to make people care about the characters so that it was a true tragedy when Mary-Sue had her head bitten off by The Horrible Creature From Under The Sink on page 27 (it was a Goosebumps wannabe, after all). I wanted to get right to the exciting part; I didn’t want to write about the lead up. It was only after I had discarded several hundred barely-filled exercise books that I finally discovered the key: Start on the day that’s different. So you want Mary-Sue to be eaten by The Creature From Under The Sink? Great! Start there. Open your story on a scene you enjoy writing. Writing is meant to be fun! Plus chances are if it’s boring to write then it will be boring to read, and nobody is going to willingly keep reading a book that is boring. People barely have enough time to read as it is. While we’re on that subject…
Read, read and read some more.
In my opinion, this is one of the best things you can do for your writing. I’m assuming that your love for reading is the reason that you wanted to become a writer in the first place, so it makes sense that reading should be high on your priorities. Right? ‘Oh but Girl With Words,’ I hear you say, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’ To that I say…Make time. Reading comes with the territory. It can teach us so much: what works and what completely sucks, or what’s selling and what’s gathering dust on the back of the shelves. It can also help us develop our own ‘voice’ and it can inspire us to want to write a better book than that one we cannot believe was published. Did anyone even read that manuscript?? Ahem. Maybe that’s just me :p
Also reading is funtastic. I highly recommend it!
Speaking of funtastic things…
Love Thirty Seconds To Mars.
Ohhhhkay, so you don’t have to love them specifically (but how can you not? :p), but I do strongly recommend you find something that inspires you to keep going even when its difficult. It doesn’t have to be something related to writing; it just has to be something that will keep you motivated to work as hard as you can and never give up on your dreams. That kind of encouragement and inspiration is invaluable. If you need some suggestions I happen to know this really great band…
Ahem. I guess that sort of leads into my next point, huh…
Don’t put too much stock into other people’s advice.
Unless that advice is to love Mars, in which case why aren’t you out there loving them yet? :p
Find what works for you and do it. There are some people who swear by outlining, others who spend a few months researching before beginning to write and others still who just write by the seat of their pants (cough). Just as each person has their own unique voice, each person also has their own unique way of working. Personally I like to lock myself in my bedroom and sit on my bed while I blast some music and write like the wind, Bullseye. I don’t use an outline and 99.9% of the time I have no idea where I’m going until I get there. But that’s half the fun, right? I love writing myself into a corner and being like ‘well how the hell am I going to sort this out?’ A better writer would probably know exactly what was going to happen and when, but I enjoy muddling through it along with my characters. It works for me. It may not work for you, so you need to find what does and…
Because really. Your book isn’t going to write itself.