Writing Tips From One Newbie To Another

Regular readers of my blog will know three things about me:

  1. I love to write fiction,
  2. I am a complete newbie at it, but that won’t stop me having a go.
  3. I squeeze this hobby into the cracks between my life and my job.

The reason this blog exists is to allow me to connect with other writers dwelling in the blogosphere and to learn from their experiences. Today, I thought I would return the favour and write a post aimed at all the other newbies hiding in the WordPress crevices and let them know what I do to practice my fledgling skills. None of what I say will be new to anyone, but we all have our methods and this is what’s working for me so far.

My first piece of advice is, on the face of it, pretty obvious, but if you want to get better you have to practice. If you were learning to play the piano you wouldn’t expect to jump from a two-fingered rendition of chopsticks to a flawless and beautiful Debussy without years of practice. The same applies to writing, you need to practice and you need to practice a lot. I do this by using writing prompts, I have a board on Pinterest where I pin the prompts I intend to tackle one day. Feel free to have a look around and use any that catch your eye, you may even recognise a few of them if you’ve been reading the short stories on the Flash Fiction section of my site. If you do choose the same ones that I have used, I’d love to read your take on it so please let me know where to find them.

My second tip, and one that I use all the time, is to write by hand. I am so much more creative and spontaneous when I work like this. I can take a notebook and a pen away from the noise of electronic life, shut everything out and write. Almost all the writing prompts I work on are written this way. Try it, you might find it unlocks a hitherto dormant part of your brain that spills words onto a page with very little effort.

My third tip is to let other people read your work, no matter how mortifying this is, you need feedback. You have a venomous little critter living in your ear called The Doubt Monster. He likes to take any new found confidence and pound it back down inside you, burying it deeply beneath Mr Fear and Mr Turmoil until it can no longer be heard. You will give your confidence the strength to fight back by letting people read your work to give you honest feedback. I published everything on Wattpad before I started my blog as I felt strangers were much more likely to tell me what they really thought. I was right, they are also more than happy to tell you how to improve the prose. Your writing will be all the better for it.

My fourth tip is to write every single day. You don’t have to write a whole blog post, a whole story in one sitting or a chapter of your novel, but you do have to write. Creating a writing habit is just as important as improving your technique, in fact, the two go hand in hand. If you are short on time, just grab your notebook and write a short journal entry about your day, write about the odd man sitting opposite you at the bus station – he’s never going to see it, write about what your five senses are telling you. It all counts and it will all help.

My final tip is an oldie but a goodie, you have to read as much as you can. Find an author that you love and read their books with a fresh eye, you might be surprised how often they follow the rules on structure and character development you have studiously taken in. You may also discover, as I have, that some of your favourite authors actually write very badly. Their work is full of words that you strive to avoid like ‘very’ and ‘suddenly’. I can’t tell you how many books I have read recently where this has jumped out at me and spoilt the book. I wonder how they managed to get published at all. I am taking this as a positive sign that I am getting better at writing.

So, those are my top tips if you are a newbie writer, like I said, none of them are groundbreaking but after months of filtering through hints and tips, these are the ones that have really taken my writing to the next level.

Are you a writer who would like to share your experiences? If so, please put them in the comments, my fellow newbies and I would love to hear them.

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About Nicola Auckland

Busy wife to one & mum to two. I've caught the creative writing bug, now need to practice, get awesome and write something worth reading. Simples.
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Writing Tips From One Newbie To Another

  1. Sangbad says:

    Wow…this was a great post…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Writing Tips From One Newbie To Another | Sometimes Stellar Storyteller

  3. Pingback: Writing Tips From One Newbie To Another | wwwpalfitness

  4. Colette B says:

    Love your five great tips for new writers. Future post writing challenge: at some future point copy to a new post and edit your text down to summaries with headings. Sorry, that seems really cheeky. It’s a challenge dare I”ve been issued myself and when I find a great post that the same challenge could be applied to I have to dare to leave this comment 🙂 hope you don’t mind… happy blogging! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry Nicola, I’ve mentioned Cathy on my first comment I’ve seen your post in her site so I wrote her name instead of yours. I thank you both for the effort you are making to help newbies like me. 🙂 Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Shine,

      Thank you for the reblog, good luck with harnessing the writing powers. I hope you find your mojo. Please keep in touch, it’s very reassuring to know there are other people in the same situation as me.

      Nicola x

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on shinepositivepower and commented:
    I’m really a newbie at writing but I’m glad to find this blog. Thanks for the advice Cathy! I’ll try to apply them to harness my writing prowess within. 🙂

    Like

  7. I loved this. I find when I can get lost in writing it is more my fingers flowing on the keys rather than writing these days. But I am going to come back to this when I need some motivation.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. macjam47 says:

    Very good advice. Probably the most difficult is to let someone read what you have written.

    Like

  9. Great tips! I always have to begin on paper. There’s something magical that happens here. And even after I’ve started working through my ideas on the computer, I find it helpful to return to paper from time to time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I started to write on a notepad but not anymore. too difficult with scratching out and writing new. Good post Nicola

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Janice Wald says:

    Hi Nicola,
    I am Janice. I read what you wrote. I thought it was wonderful. Your five tips are excellent, and sage advice for new bloggers. Posts don’t have to be perfect to be published, and thanks to you bloggers may realize this now.
    I help new bloggers at my site. That is the reason I blog. If you are interested in blogging suggestions, click my name, and it will take you right to my site. Nice meeting you
    Janice

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Looks like Nicola is on the right track – Anyone like to share more suggestions with her, please use the comments under the post on Nicola’s blog 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on Ally Bally's Blog and commented:
    A fantastic article, well done. I particularly liked this post and your blog, as it is very similar to mine and my experiences.

    Like

  14. wattpad.. sounds like a good idea to get the reviews. Thanks for sharing the info.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Haylee says:

    Good advice, especially the last tip regarding established writers. I’ve started to notice this more often, especially in the classroom. We’ll often take a ‘classic’ children’s author and ask the children to power up a paragraph. Very often they come up with far better vocabulary (without being over excessive on description) than the original. So good point!

    Like

  16. wallacecass says:

    Very good article and sound advice within it. I’ve been writing for most of my life and couldn’t imagine not doing it. On my blog, I tend to emphasize writing and storytelling principles instead of offering writing advice because there’s enough out there already…hehe. Anyway, keep up the good work. 🙂

    Like

  17. dray0308 says:

    Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
    Who doesn’t need a little writing advice from time-to-time??

    Like

  18. honestme363 says:

    Nicola I just have to tell you that I am so proud of your progress.☺ I am feeling very privileged right now, to be able to be a part of your journey from the beginning. I feel like you are just stepping out of your writing ‘shell’ and I look forward to reading more from you. 😊

    Like

    • Stop, you’ll have me welling up! I do feel more confident now. I’m writing so much more, you can’t see it but I am several thousand words into my novel and I don’t hate it (unlike the other three manuscripts I have ditched!)

      Thank you so much for your support, it has given me such a boost. Those pom poms are working a treat!

      Like

  19. Francesca Smith says:

    Hello!
    Usually, I stay clear of advice posts, but yours is very compelling and informative.
    I also partake in writing prompts and flash fiction exercises, all of which I post on my own blog. Yours seems like the type of space I will enjoy visiting, so count me as another follower!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Deeksha says:

    Great advice!! I totally agree with you on the writing on paper by hand thing! So much better than typing..

    Like

  21. Anita says:

    Lovely note 🙂 I’m not the write on paper person anymore but I’m sure many people are. I took your advice and wrote off a prompt yesterday.. it turned out to be an interesting activity: readers seem to like it but I was terrified while writing! It’s an amazing concept though, really helpful. Thanks again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome. I’ll pop over to your blog and read it, I love to see how other people tackle them. I find that I often just write a scene rather than a cohesive piece, it forces you to come up with a much wider scenario, even if you don’t write it all out.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you, Nicola! Each time I see someone taking risks and encouraging others to do the same, I feel empowered to knock the Doubt Monster off my shoulder for a while and go for it! Perfectionism stifles creativity, doesn’t it? And the reading and seeking of honest, constructive feedback builds confidence. Looking forward to reading more of your work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The doubt monster is an unwelcome, but ever present, parasite. I liken it to an Orchid, leaching off your life force but providing joy. If it wasn’t for the doubt monster I wouldn’t strive to better myself.

      Like

  23. Nik says:

    Excellent advice. All of them ring true with me with the exception of writing by hand which is something I haven’t tried for a while (with the exception of the odd haiku poem!) so I may give that a go!

    My two additional tips would be firstly to explore things outside of your comfort zone. If you are someone who normally writes 5000 word thrillers try writing a 250 word horror story, if you always write from a specific POV try a different one and so on.

    Secondly I’d advise writing a story entirely in dialogue. It’s a great exercise in getting your characters to tell a story without any scene setting, speech verbs, descriptors etc. I found that doing this greatly improved my dialogue in other stories and I started getting lots of comments about my dialogue being “believable” and “natural” – which is exactly what I strive to achieve.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your input Nik, I took your advice and wrote from the antagonist’s POV in my WIP last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. I must have an inner serial killer.

      I’m going to write my next scene entirely in dialogue before I go back and fill in the details. I guess this will cut out the unnecessary before I even write it in.

      Like

  24. orangepondconnects says:

    One of my favorite books is The Outsiders, but it has been years and years since I’ve read it. So the other day I picked it up and started to read it. And you know what I discovered? That book does a lot of “telling” instead of “showing” lol Oh well. It’s still my favorite 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a favourite chick-lit go to book which was guaranteed to perk me up if I was feeling down, Flora’s Lot by Katie Fford. It’s lighthearted and whimsical. I reread it recently and thought it was shocking! Full of people being ‘kissed thoroughly’ and lots of ‘lovely’ things!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Thank you.
    This is very thoughtful of you and I really appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. kirstwrites says:

    Hi Nicola , I think these are great tips – although since I learned to touch type I can actually type much quicker than I write and I find my ideas flow on a keyboard much easier. Love the embedded Pin as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Derek Lee says:

    Sound advice is always worth repeating, and you have a fresh style in putting it across.

    Liked by 1 person

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