This is some general advice about writing that anybody can use, no matter what age.
- Write... a lot: the only way to get good at something is to practice. No other bit of writing advice matters more than simply sitting down and practicing.
- Keep an Ideas Notebook: This can be an old paper notepad, or something on your computer. I use Onenote on my computer because it keeps all my ideas nice and organised.
- Manage your time well: if you're going to write a lot, you need to set aside certain times to write. Set yourself small goals at first, like writing for half an hour two or three times a week, then work up to longer sessions.
- Find somebody who reads what you write: getting feedback from readers is great, but the most useful feedback is from people who read the kind of stuff you write. If you're writing for children, and the person you've asked to critique your work has never read any books for children, then their advice might not be completely on the mark.
Writing a Novel
When you're serious about writing that first novel, hopefully these tips might help.
|Write or Die Desktop Edition|
- Nanowrimo: Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's a website that runs a once yearly challenge for participants to write 50 000 during the month of November. It's a lot of fun and madness, and might just be the boost you need to finally write that novel.
- Planning: Some people are planners, and some are not. I like to plan pretty strictly in a program called Scrivener, but by the time the second draft rolls around my plan has usually gone out the window. It's trial and error to see what works for you.
- Write or Die: A writing program that lets you input a wordcount and time limit, and then penalises you for pausing too long. It can either play a horrible noise, or start deleting your words. I can't praise this program highly enough. When I first began writing, I was prone to staring out the window for an hour or two. But just like it claims, Write or Die really does put the prod in productivity. I write all my first drafts in Write or Die.
- Learn to Love Drafting: No first draft is perfect. In fact, chances are it probably won't even be readable. But that's fine - that's what drafting is for. Knowing that you can fix any mistake later on really frees you up to stop worrying and start writing!
Now you've written your book, it's time to send it out into the big bad world of publishing.
|A Decent Proposal by Rhonda Whitton & Sheila Hollingworth|
- Make Friends With a Bookseller: Actually, this could probably go right at the very start before you even begin writing. Getting to know your local bookseller will provide you with a lot of insight into the books that are selling at the moment. They can probably tell you if your idea has been done to death, or if it's fresh. Hanging out in a book store can also help you know which publishers to target - find books that are similar to yours and note down who publishes them, then send your proposal to them.
- Write a Good Proposal: During my submission period, A Decent Proposal by Rhonda Whitton and Sheila Hollingworth was my bible. It really demystifies the submission process, and better yet, it's Australian.
- Buy Australian Writer's Marketplace: Just do it. This was my other bible - it contains lists of many helpful things, like freelance markets and competitions, but I used it for finding my literary agent.
- Read Ian Irvine's Excellent Site: Ian Irvine has many more helpful things to say about the publishing industry than I do. His 'Truth About Publishing' article opened my eyes when I first began submitting, and though some of it might not be what new writers want to hear, it's definitely required reading.