February 17, 2014

Tips for New Writers

I get asked all the time now what advice I would give to new writers. After some careful consideration I've narrowed it down to four things:

1. Develop a thick skin. Your mom may love your poems. Your spouse may adore your short stories. Your college teacher may tell you that you are the next Hemingway.  But in the real world, outside of our safety bubble, not everyone is going to like everything you write. And that's okay. Its part of the process. From time to time you may experience rejection, criticism, and even downright loathing. You can't let this get to you. There are many great stories that never would have been born if the writer had given up because a few people didn't like it. Stay true to yourself and keep at it.

2. Listen to Criticism. This goes hand in hand with #1. When people are critiquing your work, really listen to what they are saying. They might have insight you just aren't seeing. Use the helpful stuff and throw away the rest. Ultimately it's your work and you need to make it the best you can, but that doesn't mean taking every suggestion someone throws out.

3. Keep a Journal. Keeping a journal and recording my innermost thoughts and feelings helped me develop my voice. It also helped me to write honestly. When I started writing my novels I no longer tried to write like Tolkien or King. I was writing as myself. This was all thanks to the countless hours I spent working on my diary.

4. Read. Most authors I know were inspired to write because of the books they had read. That shouldn't change just because you are now writing and feel strapped for time. In fact, it should be more important. You need to read to see what else is out there, what is relevant, what makes you feel good, what makes you feel nothing. The one thing I caution is to guard against the tendency to write in the style of whoever you are reading. It is okay to be inspired by someones style. It is not okay to copy them.

5. Write Daily. I've heard countless successful authors say that with every writing session their craft improved. I have to agree. At some point things just start to 'click'. I can't say what the trigger is, but there's an aha moment and the words seem to flow out effortlessly. In fact, it almost feels like cheating. To get to that point you need to do three things: Practice. Practice. Practice.

April Aasheim is the author of The Witches of Dark Root http://amzn.com/B00D6OUDDG
and The Universe is a Very Big Place http://amzn.com/B008QSTLQ2


  1. Thank you so much for the great advice April, I will be keeping it close by to refer back to often. I love to write but I am lacking in the self-confidence area, and after reading countless pieces of advice from other writers, I know it is not an uncommon feeling. I have been writing for years, especially journals, and at the moment I'm working on my memoir. The problem is, I've been working on it for several years and continually beat myself up for not having it done by now. Anyway, thanks again for the great advice.

    1. I'm glad you found this helpful. You just have to put yourself out there and let go of the fear. You're going to hear some things that may make you cringe at first, but as you develop your voice and learn who you really are, your writing will improve and so will your confidence. Don't let anyone stop you, including yourself! Good luck1


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