My Advice for New Writers

If you're a would-be, wannabe, gonna-be, aspiring writer and you're just getting started (or you've dipped your toe into the pool, but have yet to make the plunge) a quick Internet search will provide you with a mound of both helpful and less than helpful information. There's no shortage of dos and don'ts about everything from plotting entire novels, to how to craft a good sentence. Want advice about descriptions? It's there. Need to find a suitable name for your character? You won't have to look far.

As for the actual task of "being a writer," there's a plethora of that, too. Stephen King insists you be a reader and I couldn't agree more. Neil Gaiman says to finish your work, also sound advice. There's also a lot of caution delivered by successful writers for you to quit while you have the chance. Writing is, after all, a terribly cruel and difficult business which requires the thickest skin and many hours of solitary work. My advice for new writers is this:

Get over yourself as soon as possible.

Do you hear me? Get over yourself as soon as possible.

Don't try to be a great writer. Don't have an agenda. Don't have a message to push.

Just be humble and work hard.

If you're caught up in "Yourself, the Writer" rather than the story you're telling and how that will make a reader feel, then you're not doing anyone any favors. Good writers focus more on their work than on themselves. What I'm saying is, there's no room in Writerville for bloated egos. Promotion and marketing is one thing, but the almighty ego is another. Let the quality of your writing represent your ability, not your mouth.

The classic writing tip: "Show, Don't Tell" works for being writers, too.

Don't tell me all about you. Don't blab about how great you are. Don't go on and on with all of the stories you're going to write.

Show me a great story. Show me you're working hard by declining a few invitations to go out. Show you're serious about the craft by listening to critiques of your work AND making changes when you know someone else is right. Show flexibility by tossing entire chapters if they aren't going to inform or draw in your readers, whether you like the chapters or not.

The faster you can get over yourself, the sooner you will become a writer of quality stories where the characters are memorable, the setting vivid, and the plot beyond just worthwhile.

Please, please read, study writing, revise and edit your work multiple times (not twice), and join a critique group, but none of this will matter if you can't get over yourself.

What's your advice to new writers? Share in the comments below.