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  • Writer's pictureDavid Darling

Writing Tips & Tricks



 

Becoming an author is a learning process that, ideally, only gets better with time, but you must put in the work. The desire to see a novel completed is at war with several factors: inexperience, outside distractions, personal habits, and ideas.

Like most skills, with you have to practice in order to improve. Will your first novel be a number-one bestseller worldwide? The odds are against you. There are no overnight success stories. Hard work, late nights, and many failed attempts happen before a shining gem of a story is discovered. Don’t be discouraged and take solace in having one novel completed. Your next one will be even better! That is why an editor is a writer’s best friend. While making all the corrections needed, I learned from my mistakes and incorporated the lessons into my next novel. Perfect!


One detriment I have found that inhibits my writing is social media. I get a notification from Facebook, and without thought, I change tabs to find out what’s happening. Next thing I know, I’m scrolling the news feed and watching videos of a dog performing tricks or getting teary-eyed as a soldier returns home early to surprise a family member. If you’re sitting down to write, turn off such distractions or set a specific time to watch YouTube, just not in the middle of your writing session! Let your friends or family know you do not wish to be bothered for the next hour as you work. I know firsthand the difficulties with such a statement, especially with children or pets. In the end, do your best. It’s your time, and make the most of it.


That segues into routines and schedules. I won’t go into time management or how to make time for writing (I’ve already covered that in another blog, check it out), but for me, I’ve found maintaining a rigid schedule works best. For example, my alarm goes off at 5 A.M. daily (yes, even on weekends, although it’s sometimes 6 A.M.), and I stumble downstairs, have a coffee, and go through my routine. I check emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Watch some videos as I finish my coffee, then make another cup. I put on some background music and reread what I wrote the day previous to get back into the scene or mood. I may fix any glaring mistakes or errors, but for the most part, I leave them alone. I’m not using my writing time to edit. That can be done at a later date. Best advice? Turn off your proofreading functions on the computer. Seeing that red line under a misspelled word compels me to fix it immediately. If the correction suggestion isn’t there, I am writing. Simple. I write two hours before work and a few hours after work or before bed. My current word count goal (try keeping one!) is 2k words per day. However, I’m averaging 3 to 4k per day. Blowing through my word count goal allows me to have an easier tomorrow or finish a project early.


Ideas for a novel can happen at the strangest of times, so be prepared. It could be a concept for a movie or a variation of a book you’ve read (don’t worry, just write it!) that sparked your imagination. Keep a notebook and pen with you to scribble down your thoughts. It could be something basic like a phrase or saying that gives you an idea or motivation. I have not only a notepad and pen next to my chair, but I also keep a folder labeled “New Ideas” on my computer. I continue to add to the list, and I’ve already written two novels from those ideas (currently wrapping up a third). I had a dream once where I was time-traveling… yup, you got it. The next day I wrote some notes, which turned into an 88k-word novel. Take your ideas where you can get them.


There is no lack of advice or tips on writing, from Stephen King to a grade twelve English teacher, but you have to know what works for one person may not work for another. Try new things, mix it up, and above all else, keep writing. As Neil Gaiman put it; "Being a writer is very peculiar sort of job. It's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen), and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”


- David Darling 2023-02-11


If you have any tips or tricks, I'd love to hear them! Write to me at author.david.darling@gmail.com

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