6 Tips for Writers

9:19 AM

Writing is one of my biggest passions. I've been making up stories and hundreds of characters since my fifth grade English class, where we were encouraged to write our own version of Cinderella. I'll never forget when my teacher used my story as an example for the class. I was so happy and so proud of myself. 

In high school, I never thought of it as a career. I never thought that I'd ever be able to pursue it. I wrote in secret. I posted stories online under a pen name. Some of them are still even up - but you'll never find them! 

Then I entered college - completely clueless as to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. There were many nights of panic, anxiety, and filled with lots of crying and sleepless-nights. 

It wasn't until the fall semester of my sophomore year when I took a journalism class that I realized I had to write and that I enjoyed it and I could make a career out of it if I wanted to. Even if it meant that I would have to live off of Ramen and in some tiny, hole-in-the-wall apartment: I could still make writing a part of my career. 

I had forgotten how much I absolutely loved sitting down, either pen to paper or my fingers dancing across keys, and just creating things. Stringing words together to make sentences, giving voices to fictional characters. Or sometimes just voicing my own opinion, in an opinion piece or a short "slice of life" essay. 

And I know how hard it can be to be a writer. The eye rolls you get when you mention that you like to write. The absent-minded nodding when you mention a new story idea you got in your head. The head shaking you get when someone asks you what you want to do with your life and you say, "Write." 

Here's my six tips for all of my fellow writers out there. 

1. Make a writing nook. 
Sometimes when you sit down to write, it can be for a couple of minutes or a couple of hours. However long it maybe, make sure you are comfortable. Pick your favorite spot in your house or your bedroom. Make a little nook where you know you'll look forward to sitting for hours at a time. Chances are if you like the space you're writing in, it'll encourage you to do it more. 

2. Carry a notebook.
One of the most important tips I have for you is to stop what you're doing and go out and buy a notebook, right now! It doesn't have to be huge. I like to buy mine from the dollar store. They're these pocket-sized notebooks with a good amount of pages. I put my pen through the spiral and throw it in my bag. 

3. Write EVERYTHING down.
I am not joking when I say this. Refer back to tip #2. That notebook? Why carry one with you? You'll always be prepared whenever inspiration strikes! I can't tell you how much I pull my notebook out to write something down whenever I'm feeling inspired. I use it for plots or title brainstorming or character bios and family trees. And since I've been using it I'm more consistent in my stories and definitely keep up with finding the time to sit down at a computer and make everything come to life. 

And I mean it when I say write everything down. Think of it as keeping a record of every single thought and idea that pops into your mind. Have a great idea for a character's development? Write it down. Thinking of a new topic for an opinion piece? Write it down. 

4. Read.
I say this with caution. Let the books, articles, anthology, etc. influence you, but don't let them control you. One of my rules is that I can read whatever I want, but don't read the same genre that you're currently writing about. 

For example, I've been reading a lot of science-fiction books these past few weeks. But I've strictly been writing quirky romance, chick-lit shorts the entire time I've been reading these techno-thrillers. And when I'm reading romance and chick-lit, I'm usually writing horror or apocalypse centric tales. 

If you're reading and writing the same genre, you might be too heavily influenced and could possibly just rewrite the story with your own characters; which can be done but usually not very well and not well accepted by other readers. 

5. Observe.
People watch. Go to a cafe or a mall or a park and just sit down with your notebook and look at everything around you. Soak everything in. See that little boy crying to his mother? Why is he crying? How hard is he crying? Is the mother sympathetic, or is this an overplayed bit that he does all the time just to get ice cream. Create your own story. 

6. Take a break. 
Clear your mind, put everything aside, and just relax. Frustrated that you can't write your story out the way you have it pictured in your head? These things don't happen overnight. They take a lot of time and effort, and rushing it isn't going to help you. 

Take a breath. Put everything down. Sit in silence or put on some of your favorite music. Let loose. While writing can be stressful, it's also meant to be fun. 

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