This is the fifth in a six-week blog tour series for the Northwest Independent Writers’ Association.  NIWA serves pacific northwest writers working to achieve professional standards in independent writing, publishing and marketing.

All authors were new writers once. All had a first failure and a first success. All wondered at the enormity of their venture. None could stop themselves from pursuing their stories. In thinking of things I would like to have told my younger writing self, I’ve pulled together these bits of slightly random advice. 

0. Love the process.

I’m making this #0, because if you don’t relate to this one, your chances of making it as a writer are slim. 

When I sit down at the computer and bring up my book on the screen, I am instantly transported into another world. It needn’t be the fun first draft either— it can be anywhere in the process. I write every day. The joy never diminishes. For me, writing makes time go away. If the process seems tedious to you, think about finding another way to tell your story. You will never make it through the endless work that is the writing process.

1. You are a writer.

Say it. Yes, say it out loud! Whether you’ve published or not, as long as you write, you are a writer. In the beginning, it’s hard to speak the words, but do it anyway. Then go write something to prove it.

2. Don’t be bashful.

If you’re shy like me, you will need to find a way to overcome it, because part of being a successful writer is attracting attention to yourself and your book. (For further thought on this subject, read my blogpost, AN INTROVERT TAKES ON THE WORLD.) As much as you might like to sit at home writing, (I totally understand) you will be required at some point to leave your safe place and go out among strangers to tell them about your book, why it’s different than other books, and why they should buy it. 

3. Read a lot.

Read anything and everything. Read books in your genre and in others. Read successful writers to see how they do it. Discern their “voice” and how it affects their story. Check your personal reactions to their writing. Does the story keep your interest? If so, why? Description: Too much? Not enough? How do they create the mood? Is there a special technique they use to build suspense? Sue Grafton, for instance, employed short, to the point sentences at the high points of her books. I like this idea and have utilized it in my own writing. Discover favorite authors—what is it about them you like? PS: Reading is research.

4. Join a writers’ group.

There are lots. Some are geared toward professionals where others accept anyone, from the person who wants to write a memoir but doesn’t know where to begin to authors who have been published many times over. Start with one that accepts new writers. In Oregon, that would be the Oregon Writers Colony, who have writers in all stages of craft. These groups offer workshops and classes. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn something new.

5. Get an editor.

Every writer, from I. M. Newbee to J.K. Rowling needs an editor to go through finished work looking for issues. There are two basic kinds of editing: copy (typos, grammar, and such), and content (plot holes and input on the story itself). You need both. Editors are expensive but worth the money. Your editor will save your ass. (Do make sure you go with someone reputable. Anyone can call themselves an editor.)

Advice from others:

Here are my favorite words of advice from two successful authors:

  • The first million words are practice. —David Gerrold
  • Writers’ block happens when you’ve gone wrong somewhere in the story. Go back to the last place the story worked and start from there. William Shatner 

Has anyone given advice that has helped you to be a better writer? If so, we’d love to hear it.

Watch for my next post, #6: AUTHOR COMMUNITY, coming the week of May 3-9 on the Connie J. Jasperson, Life in the Realm of Fantasy blogsite.

Check out this week’s other participating NIWA blogsites:

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About Mollie Hunt: Native Oregonian Mollie Hunt has always had an affinity for cats, so it was a short step for her to become a cat writer. Mollie Hunt writes the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip, and the Cat Seasons sci-fantasy tetralogy where cats save the world. She also pens a bit of cat poetry.

Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, the Cat Writers’ Association, and NIWA. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats. Like Lynley, she is a grateful shelter volunteer.

You can find Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer on her blogsite:

Amazon Page:

Facebook Author Page:

Twitter: @MollieHuntCats 

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