5 Pieces of Advice for Wannabe Writers

Five Pieces of Advice for Wannabe Writers

From a Teacher, Also, Writer

It’s a Crappy Life

What did Sinatra sing? “You’re flying high in April, shot down in May.” A writer’s life is rife with highs and lows. There are moments of creative elation and hours of soul-crushing doubt. A real writer, once they are committed to either cause, buckles down through the nadirs and looks forward hopefully to the soaring zeniths.

Everyone is going to have advice for you.

And it will always be wrong. Not that they’re wrong, but advice given by another writer is something that words for them. It does not necessarily mean it will work for you. Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t. Take what you can from the advice and use it to your best advantage.

Know your Rules.

This applies not only to the rules of grammar, but to the rules of story structure. Don’t start out writing Ulysses. It’s doubtful anyone will care. Start out with a simple story, then start bending and breaking from there. You can’t break the rules if you don’t know that.

I’m a teacher. I’ve corrected thousands of third, fourth and fifth grade essay and stories over the year. The sad part is when I pick up a book and see those same errors made by so-called adult writers. Sorry, but “poetic license” falls flat when you write in sentence fragments and call it artsy.

Reading Makes You a Better Writer

Okay, this is true, but what are you reading. More importantly, HOW are you reading it. Reading a random book while you sip tea, watch a movie and eat chips isn’t reading to make you a better writer. That’s reading for pleasure. Reading to make you a better writer is when you pick up a well-written book and read it for character development, story structure and word usage. That’s how reading makes you a better writer.

Shut up and Write

Gah, we’ve all seen it, haven’t we? The writers who write more in a response to a social media post than they’ve written on their novel all week. These writers are part of countless writers groups and they drift from one to another, asking questions about plot points or character descriptions in their book, or responding to other writers’ questions. Some say they’ve been working on a novel for years. Yet instead of finishing said novel, they spend most of their time online TALKING about it, using words better served for their work in progress. Don’t do this. Be productive. Work on your story. And….


I am guilty of this. Many works in progress, not enough finished work. Don’t be me. Finish your work. Good, bad, indifferent, just finish it and push it out into the world. By doing that, you will be a writer.

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