Written by MasterClass
It’s easy to get overwhelmed as a new writer when you’re staring at the blank page wondering where to begin. The good news is there are many places you can find writing advice and tips that can help you strengthen your abilities and build confidence in yourself.
Writing is a lifelong pursuit, and the best writers never stop learning or striving to improve their craft. If you’re new to writing, here are some writing tips that can help simplify the process:
- Keep a daily writing habit. The first rule of being a professional writer is to start writing on a regular basis, ideally every day. Writing is hard work, and it’s difficult to tangibly improve your writing if you aren’t writing daily. The best writers know that they can’t possibly produce their best work day in and day out, but even so, they force themselves to get through the tough days. Once you’re in the habit of writing every day, you’ll find that those tough days come around less frequently, and you’ll start to build more confidence in your writing skills. Don’t let feelings of inadequacy or discouragement stop you from sitting down at your desk and doing the work on a daily basis.
- Read diligently. The best way to develop your writing style is to read everything you can get your hands on. You’d be hard-pressed to meet a good writer who isn’t also a voracious reader, and that’s because so much of a writer’s style is informed by great writers they admire. Keep your favorite books on hand for reference. Bookmark and underline your favorite passages and seek out new books to expand your base of knowledge.
- Take writing classes. Many new writers haven’t taken a writing course since high school, but the good news is there are so many options available for aspiring authors looking to continue their creative writing education. Seek out extension courses through a local college’s writing program, or look for online courses that focus on your area of interest.
- Join a writing group. Finding a group of peers who you can exchange writing with is a great way to make connections in the literary world and learn from diverse voices. Writers groups are usually free to join and a great resource to get additional sets of eyes on a piece of writing you are working on. Getting feedback from someone you know and trust can vastly improve your work and help you take stock of the progress you make as a writer.
- Keep reference books handy. Even the best writers make mistakes now and again. Keeping a thesaurus and style guide on hand can help you avoid common mistakes and vary your word choice. If you feel shaky on English grammar or spelling, there are plenty of books and online resources you can consult to make sure that your writing is professional and error-free.
- Write in a variety of forms. Just because you gravitate toward one area of writing doesn’t mean you should stop exploring. Writing in a form or medium that you don’t have much experience with can be a great way to develop your voice and strengthen parts of your writing that you might usually neglect. Switching between projects can also be a great way to break out of writer’s block and avoid staring at the dreaded blank page. If you’re working on a short story, consider blogging about something totally unrelated. If you’re stuck on your first novel, write a nonfiction piece about a seminal event from your past. Experimenting with different forms will also make you a more versatile and marketable professional writer.
- Learn the rules. As a freelance writer, you have to make sure they know the ins and outs of grammar, spelling, and style. Many young writers haven’t brushed up on formal writing rules since they were in school. If you’re a new writer, take some time to refresh your knowledge of basic writing rules, especially if you plan on writing professionally.
- Outline before you write. It’s incredibly useful for young writers to make an outline or roadmap for a new piece of writing before they jump headfirst into the writing process. You might remember your English teachers hounding you to make a detailed outline from introduction to conclusion before you started writing a critical essay. Professional writers can use the same basic outline structure for their work. Without an outline it’s easy to start strong but quickly find yourself stuck after you finish the first page or chapter. If this is your first time doing professional freelance writing, make a detailed outline before you sit down to write.
- Keep a journal. Great writers find inspiration all around them. If you’re new to writing, make sure to carry a journal with you everywhere you go. You never know when inspiration will strike and what aspects of your real-life will inform parts of your writing. If you see something interesting or an idea strikes you, it’s vital that you have a place to write it down and record it for future writing projects.
- Edit carefully. Your best writing will be the product of numerous rewrites. Editing and rewriting are arguably the most important parts of the writing process, especially for professional writers. In order to become a better writer and develop your writing skills, it’s vital that you put in the time editing and revising your first draft. Not only does editing ensure that you’re producing a quality piece of writing, but it also helps clue you in on bad habits you might have or common mistakes you find yourself making.
- Remember why you love writing. If you’re transitioning into full-time, professional writing, don’t let yourself lose the love for writing that made you want to do the work in the first place. Writing well depends on you maintaining your passion. If you ever feel overwhelmed by your work, take a second to do some journaling or work on a short piece that’s just for you. Taking a break to reconnect with your love of writing can help reinvigorate your passion for the craft.