Many Dos and Don’ts swirl in our writer-brains, and I’m not even talking about all the non-writing-related clutter in our heads.
Yes, the list can be long, but if you keep these 5 tips to avoid when writing in your back pocket, you can focus on getting words on paper and giving yourself grace on the days you don’t.
Remember, it’s not a race, contest, or some overachieving stress punishment—well, unless you embrace NaNoWriMo (I kid. Not really).
Avoid the overwhelm of a blank page or feeling stuck progressing forward.
The best advice for getting unstuck/unblocked is to flesh out your plot with a different outlining tactic and dive deeper into your character development with full character profile sheets.
Also, pick up a writing craft book, immerse yourself in a creative writing course, or find a good critique partner or writing coach/mentor to help you get over the hump.
Lastly, pick up a TBR book in your chosen genre and read it with an analyzing lens to pick up inspiration.
It’s like walking through an art gallery—how can you not think to yourself, wow, this is so amazing or, heck, I can do that.
Avoid Flat Characters.
Have you heard the saying, “Characters are the heart of fiction?” Well, it’s true. If you have flat characters, the reader won’t be invested in your writing, no matter how exciting the world is or how smart your prose sounds.
Characters need to be fully fleshed out to where you can answer almost any question about them. Your main job as a writer is to get your reader to connect to characters so they’ll cry for their hardships and root for their causes.
If you’ve signed up for the free Mini Self-Editing Master Class, I give tips on how to create gripping characters.
Since it is such an essential element in writing, I’m completing a CREATE GRIPPING CHARACTERS SELF-PACED COURSE with the best character profile sheets you will find. Coming Soon! Sign up for my newsletter for the free mini self-editing master class & a free editing offer when my courses are released. x
Avoid needless words.
I talk a lot about convoluted sentences and filter words because they weaken the prose, water down or completely disconnect the reader to the emotional connection with the story.
More importantly, cutting unnecessary words immerses the reader into every scene, which shortens what we call the narrative distance for the reader. This is vital because you want your reader to be in the story right there with your character—not aware that they are reading words, sentences, and pages, but fully absorbed in your world.
Not knowing your audience.
I can’t tell you how important it is to understand your audience. And knowing who you write your book for is crucial for not only marketing after the book is done but for your all-important beta readers and editors who will help you with all the rewrites.
Crafting your ideal reader will also help you during the writing process. Add this to your character profile lists and world building outlines. What does your ideal reader want? What are their hopes, dreams, fears, and frustrations?
*Check out my YT video for Target Audience and to understand the importance of nailing down your specific subgenres. I disclose my own worst beta reader comment (EEEKS), so you hopefully never make the same mistake as me back in the day.
Pump out as many books as you can for the sake of ego and vanity.
NOT! By skipping steps, you are at risk of being another number in an already oversaturated industry of self-published and NaNoWriMo writers. Sorry, but it’s true.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the option to self-publish (That’s why I left a publishing group to go into freelance editing—to help women who didn’t have luck querying), and NaNoWriMo has its place if you work well under stress and have that sort of time.
What industry professionals don’t like is the lack of effort being put into these Amazon uploads just for the sake of “being published.”
Follow these crucial steps To shine in the crowd:
- Put time and space between you and your story. Don’t even look at your draft for 1 to 6 months and then do your self-edits and rewrites with fresh eyes. You will be amazed.
- Take the time for beta readers, then go back and continue your rewrites.
- Save up and get an editor. Do not publish a book yourself or thinking a grammar/writing software is enough. I’m an editor, and I still have an editor for my stories! It’s crucial—don’t skip this step. Some editors even specialize in blurbs and query letters to raise your book above the noise (Ahem, ME!).
- Invest in a good cover artist. Like the blurb, no one will buy or read your book if it looks bad or amateurish.
- Give yourself grace for every stage of your writer life. Be proud of what you’ve done in the past because it’s made you the writer you are today with the depth and complexities needed—Now go! WRITE and REWRITE so people can enjoy your future polished stories! Connect and reach out if you ever need support. CHEERS!
A.R. Garrett is writing her debut historical fiction series, Atalanta & The Amazons. As a writer of the ancient world, she excavates facts & dissects mythology to spotlight the most prolific warrior women lost in the shadows of our history books—adding a touch of fantasy for the daydreamer in all of us.
A.R. Garrett has a degree in Business and English with a concentration in fiction writing from SNHU, and is currently working on a double masters in Creative Writing and Ancient History. She’s been a freelance fiction editor since 2018 and created a platform to help other women writers on FB: www.facebook.com/groups/supportingwomenwriters
When she’s not wrangling her two boys in the mountains of Colorado and trying endlessly to understand the mystical world of algorithms, she loves handwritten letters sealed with a wax stamp, and appreciates a dang-good brownie.
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