At a recent workshop, our members were asked what would be their best advice to a new writer. Here are three selections.
You can’t wait until you are inspired to write. You have to write everyday. Recreate conversations you’ve had, write descriptions of places you’ve been, and record tidbits of stories people tell you. These are the makings of great writing.
I learned the hard way that it is important for beginning writers to honor your original purpose when you are serious about writing something as long as a book. If something inspires you enough to take on such a complex task, be true to it Along the way, you will be tempted to go off in other directions. That's okay; you might produce all kinds of good material for other uses, but eventually you'll have to pare it down if you want to accomplish your original purpose cleanly and effectively. Here's an example of what I mean: I started to write a memoir about a period in my family life related to the Vietnam War, inspired by the issue of war today. As I wrote about my family, my writer's group asked for more insight into my parents. So I spent a lot of time working on that (which I don't regret). But now I realize that the story of my struggles to understand my parents is another book altogether. Maybe I will write that book someday. I think so. But I have been at this book three years. It won't get finished if I keep trying to write TWO stories into one work. I'm not good enough, yet, to do that. And I won't get better if I insist on struggling on and on when I know in my heart I am over my head.
Advice: Keep a notebook or legal pad of thoughts to use for future story ideas. It is a great way to capture a fleeting thought and come back to it when you are ready to develop it.