Are you looking for ways to improve your writing game? Perhaps you’d like to develop stronger storytelling skills or you need advice on how to push your author marketing to the next level. You’ve come to the right place. On this list, we’re sharing 100 top tips to help you become a fine writer in general and a better author specifically.
Let’s dive in.
1. Top Tips for Being More Productive as a Writer
- Make use of time blocks. Research your story in one block, write in another block. You’ll make better use of your time when you’re focused on one task.
- Don’t try to edit when you’re writing. Editing requires a different part of your brain than writing. It’s impossible to successfully shift between the two, plus it reduces your productivity.
- Turn off the Internet when you’re writing. The Internet is a distracting siren.
- Have a daily writing goal. Get specific here. Don’t just say “I want to write every day,” but create a writing goal, such as 100 or even 1000 words every day.
- Choose a time each day to write. Some writers work best in the morning. Others, like me, work best in the afternoon. Find your time and then write during that window every day.
- Organize your desk daily. You’ll lose a lot of time trying to track down that scrap sheet of paper with your latest research. Instead, take a few minutes at the end of the workday to organize your writing space and notes so that you can start off fresh the next day.
- Consider going paperless with your notes. Using a tool like Evernote means that your research is accessible anywhere that you go, providing you can log on to the Internet.
- Set deadlines. This is for all the procrastinators out there who find it difficult to work without a beast chasing them. Setting a weekly deadline will motivate you to act now instead of later. Be specific with your deadlines, i.e. 10 pages by Friday or one chapter every week.
- Challenge yourself to write a novel in one month by participating in NaNoWriMo. It may be crazy, but writing an entire 50,000 word novel in the space of 30 days can dramatically improve your writing while also giving you a fantastic, if not very rough, first draft.
- Take frequent breaks. Don’t try to write for hours at a time. You’ll burn out your creativity that way. Every 30 minutes or so, take a brief, five-minute break to reset yourself.
2. Top Tips for Becoming a Better Author
- Read. There’s no way around it: If you want to be a good writer, you’ve got to be a good reader. Read in your genre, but don’t just say there. Read stories in all genres, which can also help you formulate new ideas for your own stories.
- Join a writing community. In fact, join several. When you befriend other writers, you find camaraderie, advice, and sanity.
- Reduce wordiness. If you can the same story in 1,000 words, don’t use a 1,001.
- Write every single day, no excuses. Writing is a discipline and is not at the whim of inspiration. Let inspiration catch you writing.
- Experiment with your writing. Don’t just stay with the genre, style, or content that you’re most comfortable with.
- Start a story from the end and then write the middle and beginning.
- Don’t go over your time limit to write.
- Be ready to jot down new ideas when you first wake up (or even in the middle of the night).
- Get to the point in your writing. Don’t meander through prologues and backstories.
- Don’t obsess over what others may think about your writing. Realize that not everyone will “get” your writing and that’s okay. Your writing isn’t for them— It’s for the readers who enjoy your storytelling.
3. Top Tips for Finding Inspiration as a Writer
- Write your ideas down whenever inspiration hits. Carry around a notebook or download a note app to your phone.
- Make time to do something totally unrelated to writing or working your day job. All of your free time shouldn’t be spent writing. You need time to just “be” in order to get inspired.
- Read your old journal entries.
- Write about someone that you’d like to know.
- Watch murder mysteries/ documentaries and imagine you knew the victim.
- Go to the movies. Or cue up Netflix.
- Scroll through Pinterest or Instagram.
- Visit a public place (like a restaurant or the food court in a mall) and listen in on others’ conversations.
- Revisit your childhood and think about the events that made the most impact on your younger self.
- Freewrite. In other words, just start typing without stopping or editing yourself. This pre-writing ritual can help unlock your creativity and enhance your vocabulary.
4. Top Tips for Writing a Novel
- Write your novel in thirds: In the first part, introduce your characters and plot. In the second part, develop your characters and advance the plot. In the third part, resolve your story and close all the open ends.
- When you write characters, be as specific as possible. The more specific your characters, the more relatable they’ll be to all readers.
- Consider outlining your story before you write. Many authors find it easier to work with a loose, but clear, framework so that they know where their story is heading.
- Get rid of excess adverbs in your writing (i.e. the words that typically end with -ly and modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs). Instead, use strong verbs to communicate the action clearly.
- Don’t let incorrect punctuation take attention away from your story. Get familiar with the basic rules of grammar to make your story readable. Here are two good places to start: 11 Rules of Grammar and 20 Grammar Rules
- Don’t use passive language, such as “she was loved.” Instead, use active language, such as “he loved her.”
- Expand your vocabulary. Don’t just recycle the same words throughout your novel.
- Don’t get too creative with your dialogue tags. Rely on the old, faithful “said” instead of fancy words like “bellowed” or “intimated.” The simple “said” doesn’t distract the reader. Set the scene so that the reader knows exactly how the character says something.
- Don’t include tags every time. You can use an action to describe who’s talking, i.e. “Let’s dance.” Dwight extended his hand to Marybeth.
- Try to write your first draft as quickly as possible. Remember, you’re not editing, so there’s no need to slow down to re-read for clarity.
5. Top Tips for Marketing Your Book and Yourself as a Writer
- Get active on social media. Find your audience or current and prospective readers on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and then share updates about your latest book.
- Create a website as a central hub for yourself as an author. Use this website to provide resources to readers who are interested in you and your work.
- Blog. Writers who blog can start building communities of loyal readers.
- Start an email list. Don’t wait until you have a steady stream of visitors on your site— start now. Those first few website visitors may want to sign up for your newsletter, too.
- Send out email newsletters consistently, and do it on a regular basis so that your subscribers don’t forget about you.
- Use an editorial calendar for social media to promote your book and stay connected to your audience.
- Reach out to book bloggers to get reviewed.
- Conduct a free giveaway on Amazon and GoodReads.
- Create a book trailer and upload to YouTube.
- Dedicate a page on your website for your book. Include your book trailer on this page.
6. Top Tips for Editing Your Writing
- Take a break between writing and editing. After you’ve finished your manuscript, take a few days or even a few weeks to decompress before you start the editing process.
- Understand that your first draft is never your only draft. Always rewrite your story. In fact, do it more than once to find the heart of the story.
- Eliminate exclamation points! Have more than three exclamation points in your entire novel.
- Kill your darlings. Don’t be sentimental about characters who may be weighing down your story.
- Read your writing aloud. Hearing your words can help you correct awkward phrasing.
- Turn your monitor off when you’re writing so that you can’t actually see the words, which will make it less tempting to edit yourself.
- Give your edited manuscript to a fellow writer for critique.
- Don’t put too much faith into spellcheck. It won’t be able to save you from an accidental word choice that’s spelled correctly but not used correctly, such as “cell,” “sell,” or “sale.”
- Don’t just edit once. Edit multiple times. Start by editing the story itself. Then go through an edit the grammar after you’ve revised the story.
- If you ever face the choice between a smart word and a simple one, go for the simple one. Don’t force your reader to grab a dictionary when reading your novel.
Don’t miss: Self-Editing Tips for Writers
Over to You
Do you have any tips that you’d like to share with our writer’s community? Let us know in the comments below.