There are a few things I’m really passionate about and if you ask me (since I’m definitely a talker) could go on and on about!! Some of those are Jesus, Adventures in Odyssey, art, blogging, and of course WRITING!!
Writing is something I just love talking about and even though I haven’t been writing for nearly enough time to dub myself a professional, I love learning about writing which means I tend to have a lot to share about writing! Haha!
my top ten tips for writers
By Grace From Of Blades And Thorns
Salut, one and all! Allow me to introduce myself—my name is Grace A. Johnson, and I’m a Christian indie author. I’ve been writing for eight years, and at the age of thirteen, I self-published my first novel. Since then, I’ve published two more novels, a devotional, and a smattering of short stories; started a blog for readers and writers to connect and grow; and began a podcast for women of faith and fiction.
Bella reached out to me a month or so ago to do a post swap, so I’m guest-posting here on her blog, and she’s posting over on mine! We’re both sharing our top ten tips for writers/writing, so you’ll get twenty tips in total and countless words of wisdom and advice today! Without further ado, my top ten tips for writers (you can imagine how difficult it was to narrow it down to ten, so enjoy this rare occurrence)…
#1 | invite God in
No matter the situation, the first thing I tell people to do is give it to God. Surrender it to Him and ask Him to invade your heart and mind, pervade your writing, write through you. The gift, passion, talent, and desire for writing that you have comes from Him—and it is ultimately a gift for Him. A method of worship. A melody of praise. A reflection of Creation.
So give it back to Him. Invite Him into it. Not only will He move within you and your heart as you seek to serve Him, He will use your writing to bless others in ways you never expected.
#2 | pray over your writing
Going hand-in-hand with my first tip is to pray over your writing. Pray every time to touch your keyboard or put your pen to paper. Pray for help overcoming doubt and discouragement. Pray to thank God for inspiration and creativity. Pray to fill your words with the Holy Spirit.
Trust me, any situation you face as a writer, whether it’s impostor syndrome or burnout or writer’s block, can be overcome by prayer.
#3 | read & study what you read
On a more technical level, what has helped me grow most as a writer and what has helped probably every single writer on this planet is reading. There are only two ways to become a good writer, and that is to read and to write. So before you do anything else, before you tackle that big story idea floating around in your brain, pick up a book and read. Read books that are well-written and books that aren’t. Read books in your genre and books that introduce you to something new. Go outside your comfort zone in your reading (though don’t go against your convictions), and explore every corner of your comfort zone.
And as you read, study. Take note. Learn about tropes, literary techniques, writing styles, character archetypes. Analyze the plot, pacing, character development, themes. Write reviews and articles on books to break down what worked and what didn’t. Discover what you enjoy, what others like, what creates a genuinely good story.
When I began writing, I did not research things or take classes or study anything other than the books already in my hands. I learned how to format and punctuate. I learned history and culture. I learned syntax and literary devices. Not by being taught (although being taught is always beneficial), but by simply reading.
#4 | research, research, research
The one mistake I made that I regret most of all is not deleting an entire novel or choosing one career path over the other or passing up on an amazing opportunity—it is merely not researching. Throughout the beginnings of my writing and publishing journey, I did not research. I did not read up on the writing craft or history or the publishing process, and even though learning by experience (and lots of trial and error) has somehow, by the grace of God, worked, research is still invaluable. Now, as I am all but starting over as a writer, I recognize how important research is.
So open up your search engine. Crack open a book. Look through old journals and newspapers. Go and experience things in real life. Research. Research. Research.
#5 | practice, practice, practice
Most of the time, writers expect to pick things up with ease. How hard can it be to put words on a page, after all? You learn a new technique or discover a new method, and so with gusto, you begin. You try it out, or start a new story, or test a new style—and it stinks, plain and simple. Growth, and thereby success, does not come from knowledge. It comes from applying that knowledge. Trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and failing again until you finally get it.
Practice, dear writer, is what makes perfect.
#6 | accept feedback with grace
Publishing my books, the byproduct of my childish imagination, has been a humbling experience. I’ve received negative review upon negative review, and even positive ones that point out mistakes that make me cringe. I read over what I wrote at twelve and want to die a little inside knowing other people all across the world read this absolute crap.
It can be easy to feel offended and proud. To think you are in the right, and whoever deigns to defame your precious work is a plumb fool. To assume you have achieved perfection and have no room to learn or grow.
It can be just as easy to lose all hope. To despair over every writing, let alone sharing it, again. To doubt everything you do. To think you can never improve or be appreciated.
Both mindsets are utterly false. When you receive feedback, whether positive or negative, you must do so with grace. Give yourself and your work grace—and give the person providing the feedback grace. There is always room for improvement, but that is not a reflection of your worth or capability. Remember that, and you will far surpass most authors out there.
#7 | don’t be afraid to grow
On that note, don’t fear change and growth and improvement. You shouldn’t stay where you are now or where you have been; you must grow. It can be difficult and painful, but it is inherently beautiful and lovely and hopeful and promising.
I’m currently in a season of growth that has been confusing and agonizing, because I have been reconsidering what I’m doing and reevaluating how/what I write. I’ve been looking at old projects and shaking my head. I’ve been exploring new things and holding onto a bit of fear in regards to what may come.
But at the end of this season is harvest. Bounty. Abundance. Like heads of ripe wheat glinting white and gold in the early autumn sun, there is something beautiful about growing and maturing. I can look back on the previous stages of my growth and resent how little fruit I bore then, or miss how carefree I might have been—or I can look forward to the next season. To my next purpose (becoming a loaf of delicious bread, if I have any say in it).
Anyway, analogy aside, don’t be afraid to grow. Stay humble and rooted (pun intended) in your #1 purpose—serving God—and as you shed old leaves and gain new branches, you’ll find this new version is even better than you could’ve imagined.
#8 | find your writing style & process
Something I’ve been passionate about learning and talking about recently is finding your unique writing style and writing process. Early on in your writing journey, set out to find what works for you. It’s a long, slow process—so the earlier you begin, the better. Explore all the different routines and methods and schedules and tools and techniques until you find what flows naturally for you, what you love, what you excel at.
Not everyone writes the same way or uses the same style. Not everyone writes at the same time or in the same manner. So find your unique, individual style and process. When you can pinpoint what works for you, everything you do will come so much more easily, and you can avoid a lot of unnecessary comparison and self-doubt!
#9 | write what you love
You’ve probably heard “write what you know.” I offer you something a little different (and arguably better, in my opinion). What what you love.
Don’t let your experiences confine you. Don’t let trends dictate you. Don’t let other people persuade you.
Simply write what you love. What you are passionate about. What you want to read about. What God is calling you do, regardless of what others may say or suggest.
If you don’t love what you write, you won’t write it. You’ll try, but in the end, something new will come along, or you’ll face burnout and writer’s block. Eventually, you will miss out on the stories and themes that were set aside just for you. The stories only you could tell.
In the end, whether you publish your work or not, your audience will always consist of only two people: you and God. So write with those two individuals and their desires and preferences in mind.
#10 | cultivate community
Finally, cultivate community. No man—including writers—is an island, so don’t attempt to journey alone. Find fellow-minded writers to encourage you. Different writers to challenge you (challenge, not discourage or lead you astray). Older writers to mentor you. Newer writers to share what you’re learning with. Writers who offer feedback and critique. Writers who sprint with you and keep you on track. Writers who inspire you and serve and worship alongside you.
Further, get connected with readers and editors and designers and marketers—all variety of other people in the literary industry. Heck, get connected to people who aren’t in the literary industry who can support you and inspire you in other ways!
Either way, build a community around your writing, your journey, your faith, you. When all else fails, the people God has brought into your life will stand by you and shore you up. They’ll also buy your books if they know what’s good for them. 😜
About The Author:
Weren’t those awesome tips? I know I definitely picked up a thing or two that I’m going to remember!! Thanks so much Grace for sharing your advice with us!