January 11, 2017

4 Tips For New Writers

Members of our chapter at an open-mic
It happens every January. My inbox fills up with inquiries about our local writing chapter of SCWA (South Carolina Writers' Association). I've been the leader of the Greenville chapter for several years, so the sudden spurt of interest is nothing new. People start the new year with many resolutions, one of which is: "I'm going to write a book."

After a month or two, the ones who really mean it are still around while the others disappear back into their lives of "someday I want to write a book."

What do I have to say to these would-be writers?

 

Writing a book takes time and dedication.

I don't know how many people have told me: "I have an idea for a book and one day I'm going to write it." They say it like writing a book doesn't take hard work and skill. They are wrong. To make this offhand statement to someone who is actually writing is like saying to a surgeon, "Someday, I want to operate on someone." I'm not trying to frighten or offend people. There are many people who are writing, but it's not something that you sit down and do one day without any preparation.

 

Take it seriously.

There are writing guidelines. Most of the people who write and don't take the time to learn how to write are writing a very rough first draft. First drafts are nothing to sneer at, though. At least you've accomplished something, but you need to polish it a lot before you proclaim it finished.

 

Seek out writing groups and workshops.

Writing is not a solitary endeavor. Although, this might appeal to some, no one creates in a vacuum. At some point, you must interact with other writers. It will keep you motivated and you will learn about techniques and guidelines and publishing, and agents and ... Get the picture? The best way to stay focused and learn is to find other people with the same writing goals. Writing groups, conferences, and workshops are perfect places to find these people.

Get your BIC.

BIC stands for "butt in chair." It's a common term used by writers who understand the only way you will ever succeed in writing is to sit down and write. If you don't do this, you will never write.


What do I expect from the people who contacted me this year?

Of those people who contacted me with questions, a few showed up at our meeting this week. This is a big step, but what will make the difference is whether they keep showing up at meetings. We have a great group of motivated, published, and award-winning writers that they can learn from. Not only that, but those who did show up brought a new perspective to the writing of our present members. We want their perspectives, so I hope they will return!

What advice would you give to a person who wants to write a book?

2 comments:

Phil Arnold said...

All good points. there are about a million booxs out there on writing technique. Maybe you can redommend some for new writers

Barbara V. Evers said...

Phil, there are a lot of books and blogs related to the topic. I would recommend anything written by Donald Maas, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, or On Writing by Stephen King. Do you have any suggestions?