I’m excited to share 10 excellent tips and secrets from 15 different highly successful people within the writing world, including New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors, agents, and editors. Discover the best ways to create your novel from first draft to polished submission and learn secrets from several best-selling authors and agents. These proven tips and tricks will help you in every stage of writing your brilliant novel, from start to finish.
“Read a lot. Write a lot. Then revise it until it’s awesome!”
–Chad Morris, author
The best practice for writing your novel is to read, read, read! Read in the genre you hope to write in, but also read in different genres. Find similar authors and study what makes their novels shine. Read passages out loud. What words stand out? Now practice reading your writing out loud. See if you can hear the weak sentences that need work. Can you hear your character’s voice? Make reading a top priority in your quest to become a better writer.
“Find your voice by writing tons and reading tons!” – Brandon Mull, NYT Bestselling Series Fablehaven
#2 Overcome the fear of mistakes
“Write fast and don’t look back until you’re done.” – Adam Sidwell
Turn off your inner editor when working on the first draft. Just write and revel in the freedom to find joy in your writing. Don’t be afraid to keep learning as you go because there is always another story in you waiting to be crafted. Make a project goal and break down your word count into daily and weekly totals. Keep a calendar of your writing and watch those words pile up. Keep moving toward the end goal, one word at a time.
“Make mistakes! Make glorious, awesome, beautiful, disastrous mistakes!” – Jennifer Nielsen, NYT Bestselling Author
#3 Develop a Core Belief in Your Writing
“Believe in what you write. You have to have a passion for your topic because if you don’t your story falls flat. Passion shows, and it passes from you to the reader.” – Samantha Millburn, editor, Covenant Communications
What is your reason to write? You must believe in yourself so you can push yourself to write what is best for you and your career. Write the book that calls to you because the characters are speaking to you. Find your core belief about writing and why it’s important to you. Now define it. Why must you write? What do you hope to accomplish? Who do you hope to influence? Finding the WHY behind your writing will propel you forward on the journey.
“Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Set a goal that’s right for you and reward yourself for reaching it.” – Ilima Todd, author
#4 Work hard
“Work. Work hard. Don’t be perfect. Just work. And when it’s all down on the page, shape it. And then take time to remember, YOU DID THAT. YOU. And feel the joy. And then let it fuel you to work some more.” – Melanie Jacobson, award-winning author
Writing is work in every stage. No matter how many novels you write, it won’t necessarily get easier, and it shouldn’t if you are pushing yourself to learn more and improve in your craft. Don’t be afraid of work. This is a simple secret to every type of success. Work is the proven factor that will separate you from the rest of the crowd. The tiny grains of sand that oysters work on become pearls. Your words can become a treasure when you strap on your writing boots and get to work.
“Work like mad. The harder you focus on your novel, the faster it will come into focus.” – David Farland, NYT Bestselling Author
#5 Attend Writing Conferences
“Write something cool. (And go to conferences.)” – James Dashner, NYT Bestselling Author
I credit attending writing conferences for getting me where I am today. The power of networking is immeasurable. And the writing craft, marketing, and advanced publishing skills you can learn at conferences is vital. And yes, I got this quote from James at a conference that we both attend on a regular basis. I’ve been attending writing conferences, classes, and workshops both in person and online for eleven years. When I attended my first conference, it was sort of a sucker-punch to realize just how little I knew about writing. At the same time, it was exhilarating to think that I had found a resource that would help me jump out of the slush piles and get my writing noticed. I am associated with literally hundreds of authors at many different stages in their writing careers. Some of them are acquaintances and others are the best of friends. I’ve met with editors, agents, publishers, and other top executives at writing conferences and I’ve always learned something that keeps my writing fire burning.
“Stop worrying about the rules; focus on the craft.” –Jen Rofe, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary
Inspired by these tips?
#6 Treat your writing as more than a hobby
“Set your writing time & stick with it—even your “quitting’ time. It will help keep your “well” full, ensures you return to write the next day & keeps writer’s block at bay!” – Ali Cross, author
This isn’t a hobby. If you’re serious about writing and you want to be published and reach the next level, then this is a job. You are a real writer. Treat yourself that way. Be professional. Set goals and work your butt off to reach them. Write regularly and don’t let “every little thing in life” keep you from reaching your goals. Don’t stop writing!
#7 Join a critique group or find a mentor
“Find someone who will give you honest feedback, someone you trust, and use their feedback to allow your story to grow into its potential.” –Traci Abramson, author
The power of critique partners cannot be underestimated. Writing can often be a lonely task, so we writers need support. Every step of the manuscript needs support for that perfect polish from critique groups, alpha readers, beta readers, and more. If you aren’t part of a critique group, look for local writing chapters or online writing chapters within your genre and find a group. I joined my first critique group after attending a conference, so it does help to know people, their writing strengths, styles, and work ethic before forming a crit group. Make some ground rules and get started!
#8 Finish Your Novel
“Finish. Just finish. Then revise. But first, finish.” – Jennifer Savage, wife & writing support for J. Scott Savage
The power of finishing is how a novel is written. Let’s compare a 5K to a 1 mile run. For someone who doesn’t run at all, both might sound like torture, but for seasoned runners, that 1 mile is just a warm up. When you finish your first novel, something happens psychologically. It’s almost like finishing your first marathon. You look back and those 1 mile stretches or 5K runs seem really short in comparison. You have the power of knowing what you’re capable of. And that means you can do it again. Finish your novel so that you can grab hold of that feeling and turn it into fuel to keep working toward your goals.
#9 Keep the balance in life & writing
“Don’t focus so much on writing that you forget to live. Life gives you something to write about.” – Sarah Eden, award-winning author
Balance is so difficult. Life is a tight rope and writing seems pretty scary sometimes with all of life’s demands. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay! The words will come. Years will pass by, our families will grow up and the words will still be there. Never regret. Live with purpose and choose the best from each day. Yes, it’s okay to be frustrated that the goals seem unreachable at times, but stop and look at YOU. Remember how awesome you are and what you’re doing each day matters. It’s worth it to be a writer, as long as you’re a balanced writer. Don’t fall off the tight rope!
#10 Keep Writing & Be Brave
“Have the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to treat yourself kindly, and the connection to be authentic.” – Jessie Humphries, author
Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard this one a hundred times: Keep Writing! But it’s true for the 101+ times. When you’re in a slump, do a writing sprint for ten minutes and see what happens. Some people also find it useful to have someone write my paper for me cheap to give some writing reference to get the creative juicies flowing. Search inside and find your gift for words and be brave enough to put words on the paper. Keep writing, but also keep learning, making connections, and working toward your ultimate goals. You can do this!
I have a short survey here if you’d like to tell me what you need to be a better writer. Only 5 questions and I’d love to hear your answers!
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