Writing Tips: Know Your Audience

know your audience

Writing tips: know your audience.

It’s an old adage for writers: know your audience. But what does that mean? How well must we know the audience? And does knowing the audience increase our chances of getting published or selling our books?

Some writers insist that the best way to write is to just write for yourself. Sit down and let the words flow. It’s true that sometimes a freewheeling approach will result in some of your best work. And writing that way is immensely enjoyable. But there are times when a writer must take readers into consideration. Read More

Writing Tips: Writing is Rewriting

writing is rewriting

Writing tips: writing is rewriting. Or is it?

Those of us who spend a lot of time studying the craft of writing inevitably come across bits of writing advice that we hear over and over again: show don’t tell, write what you know, and kill your darlings. These writing tips can be a bit cryptic, but the one about revisions is crystal clear: writing is rewriting.

The intention is to get ideas out of your head and onto the page (or the screen, as the case may be) as quickly as possible without worrying about grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You don’t need to get the details right. Just get that rough draft completed. You can clean it up later.

Like most writing tips, this one is debatable. Some writers prefer to labor over each sentence while composing a first draft. This means fewer edits later. Others use the drafting process to navigate through their ideas. This often means more revisions when the drafting is done; in other words, the bulk of time is spent on rewriting. Read More

Writing Tips: Write What You Know

write what you know

Writing tips: write what you know.

A common piece of writing advice is write what you know.

When I first heard this advice, I thought it was odd. I don’t remember where I first heard it, but I remember thinking that as far as writing tips went, it was absurd.

What about writing from your imagination or your feelings? How do genres like science fiction and fantasy fit into the idea that you should only write what you know?

It all seemed rather limiting. Was I supposed to write about American suburbia? That’s what I knew, and it was the last thing I wanted to write about. Read More

How to Critique Other Writers’ Work

how to critique

How to critique other writers’ work.

As a writer, it helps to be thick-skinned.

Professional writing is a highly competitive and saturated field in which criticism is omnipresent for two important reasons:

1) It’s the most efficient way for writers to improve their skills, and

2) Written work is often positioned to receive widespread criticism upon publication.

And guess what? Everyone’s a critic — because everyone has an opinion. Anyone can read a piece of writing and opine that it is good or bad, weak or strong, or that it succeeded or failed.

There’s an art to providing well-constructed and thoughtful criticism that is helps a writer improve the work and that recognizes the fine line between personal preference and the objective quality of the work.

The process of critiquing other writers’ work thoughtfully and intelligently will strengthen your own writing. The tips below explain how to provide critiques that are helpful and respectful. If you can apply these tips to the critiques you give, then you’ll better position yourself to receive helpful and respectful critiques in return. Read More

Writing Tips: Show, Don’t Tell

show don't tell

Show don’t tell — what does that mean?

The first time I heard the advice “show, don’t tell,” I was young and it confused me.

Show what? Isn’t writing all about telling a story?

At the time, I shrugged it off as some kind of mysterious double-talk, but the phrase kept popping up: show, don’t tell.

It rolled off my teachers’ tongues. I spotted it in books and articles on the craft of writing. A couple of times, it appeared in red on my papers with an arrow pointing to a specific sentence or paragraph. Then I took a poetry class and had a big aha moment where show, don’t tell became abundantly clear. Read More

Writing Tips: Do It Anyway

writing tips do it anyway

Writing is hard; do it anyway.

 

From a distance, writing looks like one of the easiest jobs in the world. You get to set your own hours. You’re not tied to a place of employment. And you spend your days making up stories.

However, writing is anything but easy. It can be thrilling, exhilarating, daunting, and exhausting. Sure, sometimes it’s easy. But sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes you think you’re not cut out for it. Sometimes you want to give up.

But you do it anyway. Read More

Talent Isn’t Everything

talent

How far will talent take you?

Every writer hopes for talent, but what is talent, exactly?

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary offers several definitions:

  • a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude.
  • general intelligence or mental power: ability
  • the natural endowments of a person

Talent gives people an edge or a head start. With talent, you can learn faster and perform better. Success isn’t guaranteed, but it’s within reach.

In writing, we see a variety of talents. Some authors are natural storytellers. Others have a way with words. Some are fast learners who quickly pick up new writing skills without a lot of effort. Some are simply good at organizing and communicating their thoughts, ideas, or knowledge in writing.

However, I’ve never encountered a writer who was born with the ability to whip out a brilliant piece of writing without years of learning, practice, or dedication.

Some aspects of writing simply must be learned.

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How to Defeat Writer’s Block

writers block

Let’s diagnose and defeat writer’s block!

Wikipedia defines writer’s block as “a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work.”

However, I have come to believe that in most cases, writer’s block is a symptom, not a condition.

Before we can cure writer’s block, we have to diagnose it.

Writer’s block is almost always presented as some mysterious disease. A writer sits down to work and nothing happens. The ideas are gone. The words don’t come. It must be writer’s block!

At times, writers certainly lose their inspiration or face challenges that prevent them from working. I’m not saying we shouldn’t call this writer’s block. What I am saying is that in my experience, there’s usually some underlying cause, and it’s often something that’s easily remedied. Instead of blaming our inability to work on a vague condition, we can figure out what’s really preventing us from writing and fix the real problem. Read More

Interviews with Authors Are Packed with Writing Wisdom

interviews with authors

Get writing wisdom from interviews with authors.

You don’t have to search far to find creative writing tips. There are tons of books, websites, and magazines that will let you in on the secrets of creativity and good, strong writing.

But if you want the inside scoop on what it takes to be a successful author, wouldn’t it be best to get it straight from the source–from a published author, an agent, or the editor of a major publication or publishing house?

These experts can share proven techniques that will help us improve our writing, get our work in front of an audience, and build a readership. Read More

How to Prioritize Your Writing Ideas

prioritize writing ideas

Prioritize your writing ideas.

There are always too many writing ideas or not enough of them.

Some days, we writers are so overwhelmed with ideas, it’s impossible to get anything done. Should you work on your novel? That essay you’re writing for your favorite magazine? You have an original premise for a short story. And you feel a poem coming on.

Other days, we just can’t find any inspiration. Read More