5 Professional Writers Lessons for Newbies

Hacks from the most widely read authors to improve your writing.

You are not here for the money. You are here for the readings, and if you are not here for that reason. Then, you choose the wrong way.

There are no shortcuts to have success in writing.

Why should there be?

Think about it. You want the knowledge and wisdom you only achieve by writing. For this, you need some feedback.

And if you need feedback is no possible shortcut because you need to fail.

You need to fail big. And to fail-big, you have to spend more time writing than blaming yourself.

«I am not good enough.»
«I will never write like [Insert your favorite writer here].»
«I am just an impostor.»
«I do not know what to write about.»
«My life is not so interesting to write about it.»

Please stop that mental sh*t.

You and I know the truth behind those thoughts: you have fear.

And it is ok to have fear at the beginning. But you can not allow the fear to paralyze you.

Do you remember how you learned to walk?

Stumbling and falling.

That is the only way. Some of us call that “learning process” because it is a learning process, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

I know, I know… some will make fun of what you write. It is ok. It is part of the process.

Haters are all around, but I like to think that every hater is a confused fan. Because for criticizing your work, first have to read it.

For all the above, to encourage you to start writing constantly,
in this article, I will share 5 lessons from professional writers for newbies.

If you are a newbie like me, read it, it will be interesting.

I. You have to read books constantly

“If you do not have time to read, you do not have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Stephen King.

The best advice ever. If you want to write you have to read. It is no other way to progress.

Readers are smart. They know when someone gives them meaningful information and when someone is wasting their time.

No one wants to lose time in our days. But everybody wants information.

As a non-fiction writer, you have to be updated in your field (As a fiction writer too.) For that, you have to read the books that are hitting it this year. And the ones made the difference along the way.

In my case, I love to write about philosophy, psychology, and history. That is why I have to read to…

These writers, keep me update.

But I also have to read the classics.

Those make me know the game. Everything has a beginning, and to understand why today’s things are, you must look at the past.

Mixing old writers and new ones at your reads, you achieve the credibility, the wisdom, and the information you need to create a meaningful piece.

When you read, you pay the price, and the readers know that. They know that you invest the time and the effort to research before doing your articles.

Try to read every day for at least one hour. It will make the difference. You will see.

II. Be yourself. Stay comfortable

“The right way of doing things is whatever happens to be working for you. Some people have to start at the beginning and go through in order until they get to the end. Other people are making pieces and then arranging them. Some people like to work on, at the page level, at the sentence level, and get that perfect before they move on. There is no set of surefire rules that are going to work for everyone. So you can try these suggestions. If they do not work for you, the wastepaper basket is your friend.”

Margaret Atwood.

In Spain, we usually say: each teacher has his book.

You can learn from other writers. But you have to make it work, and for that, you will have to develop your own way of doing things.

I am not just talking about writing. I am talking about everything else: your schedule, assignments, everything that surrounds being a writer today.

The reason is that writing is not a speed race: it is a marathon. And if you don´t feel comfortable, you will quit sooner than later.

Everybody can write a couple of articles per month, also per week, but if your dream is to pay the bills with the stuff you write. Then, you must have a plan.

Some days you get up full of motivation, and others, you only want to end the journey. But If you have your own process, with clear rules and structure is easy to keep going in this madness way of life.

I read all kinds of stuff. But I write about what I like, in the way I want to do it.

I have taken jobs I did not like because of the money, but it never works out. Yes, I earn some cash, but I spend days boring, doing things that I don´t love. And that drains your energy.

In my experience, I prefer to earn less writing about self-help than writing about cryptocurrencies for a consulting firm.

Writing is not manual work. Even if you do it with your hands, writing is mental work, and if you do not have your mind calm, you will not be able to do it. That is why be yourself and stay comfortable is so important.

III. You have to learn to share

“Dreaming is the day job of novelists, but sharing our dreams is a still more important task for us. We cannot be novelists without this sense of sharing something.”

Haruki Murakami.

That applies to all king of writers. No matter if you work in an essay, in a tale, or a novel. The point is sharing.

Professional writers write to get read. You may think that they write whatever they want. But it is no true because even if the story is something you want to tell, you have to write it in a way that someone else wants to read it.

Most of us forget this. We use this platform as a personal diary, and we are not Anne Frank.

Do you want to be read?

Ok, answer these questions:

  • What am I going to write about today?
  • Am I going to write for myself or to be read?
  • Am I passionate about writing about it?
  • What is the real topic?
  • Why should they read me?
  • What do I know I can share?
  • How can I make what I write more entertaining?
  • How can I make what I write easier to understand?

These are the questions you want to ask before you start.

And when you have finished your writing, before pressing the publish button, you should ask yourself the following questions

  • Do I show new ideas that your audience will value?
  • Is it credible and reliable?
  • Is the title appealing?
  • Will your users be tempted to click?
  • Does the text read easily?
  • Does the content accomplish what you set out to do?
  • Have you removed everything superfluous?

The key is sharing. Sharing information to your readers in an entertaining, engagement and easy to understand way.

Sometimes, you will make it, and others you will not. But if you try every time you write, the reader will notice it and value your effort.

You write to get read. You write to rich the life of your readers. All professional writers know that. A book is a product. Every piece you write is a product. And people who read that piece is a client.

You have to do your best. You have to respect your clients.

IV. Do not use complex language

“Every time you use a fancy word, your reader turns his head to look at it going by, and sometimes he may not turn his head back again.”

Shirley Jackson.

We have all had a baroque period at one time or another. But fortunately, someone warned us that we were boring everyone with our pedantry.

Bad writers always want to pretend to be scholars. We see this all the time. Then when no one reads them, they claim that no one understands them.

The reader notices when someone does this. The reader is there to receive information. To be entertained, to be amused. For anything but to applaud the writer who only writes for the sake of being applauded.

Remember that friend who always wants to take the initiative without counting on you?

Well, writing in a posh language that only you understand is the same thing.

You have to include the reader in what you write. And to do that, you have to write it in their language, not in nineteenth-century English.

Here some little tips to be more specific and clear when you write.

10 Tips to write clearly

  • Be brief.
  • Be pleasant.
  • Think about what you want to communicate.
  • Be clear about the objective of your text while you are writing.
  • Always think about your target audience.
  • Get to the point.
  • Use active sentences.
  • Be honest.
  • Limit punctuation marks.
  • Intersperse short and long sentences to make your text more dynamic.

Today, writing is more than ever a conversation with the reader. You have to speak clearly. Because if you do not, the reader will go to find another writer who does.

V. Anything that stops you from writing is a bad thing

“On the whole, anything that gets you writing and keeps you writing is a good thing. Anything that stops you from writing is a bad thing. If you find your writer’s group stopping you from writing, then drop it.

The other thing I’d suggest is to use The Web.

Use it for anything you can — writers groups, feedback, networking, finding out how things work, getting published. It exists: take advantage of it.”

Neil Gaiman.

No matter what, if you want to be a pro, you have to act like one doing what is necessary to continue writing and avoiding what keeps you off your way.

During a lecture, Bradbury was asked for some advice he could offer to young writers. He said:

“Go home tonight, pick up the phone and call all those people who do not believe in you and tell them to go to hell.”

It is seemingly radical advice, but life is too short and too complex to drag around the insecurities that others project onto us.

You need to surround yourself with supportive people, or your dreams will cost you three times as much effort.

I remember when I first started writing poems. I enter in a Kind of writing group. A little time after, I realized I was wasting my time.

I do not learn anything because no one wanted to teach. All of the members were there to be read. To gain followers.

The group had a leader. And if you did not follow his rules, you were criticized. And one day, I quit.

But no all the groups are the same. In those years, I have attended writing workshops of famous Spanish-speaking writers, and I have learned a lot thanks to them and the rest of the attendees.

As Neil says, we have to use all the resources at our disposal. Internet is a great one. Thank´s to the internet, I have readers in places as different as Tokyo and Montevideo.

Without the internet and the social media stuff, I will never be capable of share my work all around the world. And here I am, sharing with other people from different countries my day-to-day journey.

I am glad to read your articles and better my English. You all are my masters because I learn from each piece you share on this platform. Thank you for that.

Summary

  • I. You have to read books constantly.
  • II. Be yourself. Stay comfortable.
  • III. You have to learn to share.
  • IV. Do not use complex language.
  • V. Anything that stops you from writing is a bad thing.

Final thoughts

As you can see in the end, it is all about common sense. But as my grandfather used to say:

“Common sense is the least common of the senses.”

  1. To improve as a writer, you have to know the tools. To know them, you need to read.
  2. To have a long-term career as a writer, you have to write about things that don’t bore you and with routines that make you feel as comfortable as possible in your day-to-day life.
  3. To receive, you have to give. This is something so obvious that we forget it. Writing is about delivering value to the reader.
  4. To be understood, we have to speak in their language. Using simple, clear language will increase your readership.
  5. To develop fully, we have to surround ourselves with people who believe in us and do not limit us. Anything that takes you away from your writing goal is bad for your writing career. Analyze what keeps you away from your desk and avoid it. If you do, your writing and your productivity will improve.

If you have read to the end of the article, I want to thank you for your support. I hope this article has helped you. If so, let me know in the comments. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for reading.
Alberto García (Malafama1981).

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