Life, Writing

5 Tips for Beginning Writers


I stumbled across the little gem of an article in the February Costco newsletter. Tucked in between the health articles and monthly specials was a fun little piece about romance writing, something I’ve always wanted to do. I write every day, business emails mostly, but the idea of writing a romance novel has always been a dream of mine.

The article offered advice from writing experts. Mostly, they tell you to write. The experts advise that if you’re not writing, you’re waiting. If you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter. A Waiter. The word stung. I’m not a waiter. I’m not a prolific writer, I rationalized. My work is sitting on my desktop just –err, waiting for me to dig in. But I’m not a waiter. Am I?

It took a long time for me to even entertain the notion that I could call myself a writer. Writers thrill you, transport you and most of all, have something you can read. To quote Anne Lamotte, my really “shitty first draft” of a novel sits on my computer, and I think of the characters often. The hero and heroine are one of my happy places, as a matter of fact. But I don’t do them justice by waiting to edit and revise their story. I know I’m afraid the story is not so great. I also know that if I try, I can make it better. But I think the fear that no one else will like the story is why I wait. I can’t bear for my beautiful couple to be a failure. And you know why? Because they’re not. In truth, the failure would be on me. And there lies the rub. I don’t want to fail. And so I wait. Boo me. It’s time to write.

The article advises aspiring writers to join the Romance Writers Association (RWA). I love that romance is a moldable genre. I can write the science fiction that fascinates me and wrap it up in a love story. Who doesn’t love a love story? I certainly do. And so, with no decent novel to market, with nothing I’d even show anyone else, I’ll investigate joining the RWA. In the meantime, here are five tips I’ve gleaned from the Costco article, and other places:

  1. Write every day. Writers write. Waiters wait. I want to be a writer, so every day I need to eek out some time to write. Not business emails. That’s not the kind of writing I want to do, so it doesn’t count. The most often-given advice says to write every day, if even for a short time. The habit creates the results.
  2. Read, and read your genre. Ray Bradbury advised writers to read everything and “let them wrestle in beautiful fights in your head.” The more you read, the better your writing will be. And if you want to write mysteries, read mysteries. I suppose if you want to be a technical writer, then reading technical papers would be helpful, but I want to write romance and a paranormal romance, so I am off to read Karen Marie Moning and J.R. Ward. Darn.
  3. Don’t give up. Leaving my first draft to gather dust on my desktop does no one any good. It doesn’t help hone my craft, get me any closer to my dream of being a published author, or do anything but perpetuate the waiting. Pick away at your first draft. Edit, read aloud, revise and share. But don’t quit. Stick with it.
  4. Write what you love. While I may write about my character roaring down the highway on a motorcycle, writing about the mechanics of motorcycles would come across dry as desert dust. It’s just not an interest of mine. Writing about what interests you adds depth to your writing, which in turn will interest your reader. Anne Rice tells the aspiring writer to “Write the book you have been trying to find, but have not found.”
  5. And finally, to quote the great Kurt Vonnegut, “First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” Great advice. And like all advice, taken under advisement; applied or cast aside as deemed necessary.

Being a writer requires action. Find the time to write every day, and don’t be afraid write about what you love. Write the story that thrills you. Keep reading. Read everything. Read the classics. Read what you love. Let it fill your mind until it spills onto the paper. Seek out resources and information. Pay attention to those who’ve succeeded and listen to their advice if it serves you. And for heaven’s sake, stick with it! You’re either a writer or a waiter. I know the one I want to be.

Will you share your best writing tips with me? What’s worked for you, and what advice did you decide didn’t work? Please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!


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