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November 25, 2012
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The Most Important Lessons For Writers

:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012  Student Writer
The road out of humble beginnings in sucksville can be a long and difficult one for aspiring writers of all kinds. One thing that always helps us keep going is knowing that others have walked that road, are walking that road and will walk that road.

In our efforts to become better, more accomplished and wiser writers we all learn valuable lessons that stick with us and help us. For me, I found one of the most valuable things I learnt came as advice from somebody else.

Decide who you are writing for. Do you write for yourself or do you write for an audience? Know right from the start if this is a hobby horse for your own amusement or if you want other people to enjoy your work.

Okay. Your turn. What have you learned that you think all writers should know to become better writers and better people?
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Devious Comments

:iconxd6:
XD6 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Never let outside noise mess with your flow.
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:iconparadigmfallen:
ParadigmFallen Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional Artist
Someone will always do or appear to do better than you. Accept it and do your own thing.

Negative comments are a sign that you are popular enough to hate. Take it as a good thing. Laugh at the idiots.

Don't talk pretentiously. I know this sounds a bit odd but seriously... it's better to be honest with yourself not be either stuck up or "quirky".

Expect failure but hope for success. That way, you'll be surprised a lot more often.

Don't bet on any one project.

Always experiment with new genres. I would have never known I was good at writing suspense/horror if I hadn't ever given it a chance.
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:iconlucy-merriman:
Lucy-Merriman Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012  Student General Artist
Two things.

1. Read the genre you write. Short stories and poetry especially, because while a novel might teach you about language, the structure of a novel is different from other forms. The kind of character development in a 100,000 word text is going to be different from a 1000 word story.

2. Learn to hone your inner editor. I've been in freshman creative writing classes where I've gotten opposite feedback on the same story (eg, someone hated the story but liked the monologue at the end, whereas someone else liked the story but thought the character's monologue was cheesy.)

To cultivate your inner editor, you have to learn to critique, both yourself and others. A good critique is not saying, "I like this, I dislike this." It's understanding strategies for poetry and storytelling, and seeing if you're applying them well. It's also asking a lot of questions: why does this character do this? What's his motivation? Where is the scene taking place? Am I using a unique metaphor to describe this emotion or a cliche one?
.
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:icondaydreamerwonderland:
WRITER'S BLOCK
Getting writer's block is okay, even if it prevents you from writing even ONE word in your writing. It's okay to be stumped completely and frustrated. Time will allow you to come back to it, and when you do, you will watch as words fly onto the page. I had writer's block for two years on ONE story, my most important story I swore I would finish. Two years and during that time I allowed myself to write another story with a totally different piece of writing, and they seemed less important than the original one I was so determined to finish, and eventually I got enough motivation to go back and write what I had memorized in my mind for two years. Two years of stillness then I knocked out a few more chapters in just a short time. It's okay for some time to go by; it will give you more time for thinking of how you can get past your block. But it's important to always keep your piece of writing in the back of your head, knowing that someday you will go back to it if it means that much to you. :)
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Student Writer
Or, to put it another way, some authors say they can finish a novel in three months. I think I could knock one out in six if I worked my ass off. But that means absolutely nothing to anybody else.

You take the time you need to finish the work. Once you know how YOU write, you start to get faster and faster.
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:icondaydreamerwonderland:
Yes, and it's not how "normal" writers make their stories but I never really learned how to do it properly so I make it how I want, stories in paragraph form. Easy and takes up less space in my opinion. The good thing about writing is that you don't have to waste time on reading a book you could easily get bored with even though you like the topic. I used to love to read but all my 9th grade teacher had to say was that I was an amazing writer and BAM! One school essay turned my interests from reading to writing. And I gotta say, writing stories feels greater than reading in my opinion. It's a lot more of a challenge to your imagination.
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:iconkwhipkey:
KWhipkey Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Professional Writer
I don't know how official my advice is, but it's something that's taken me a long time to learn, so maybe it will benefit someone else. The thing I wish I'd known a long time ago is that it's OK to have your own writing process. So often, when you're just starting out, you're inundated with "rules" and "requirements" and "methods." Things like, "You must write X amount of words a day to be successful;" "Never ever ever revise until you're 100% done with the first draft;" "Outlines are a must," etc. And if you deviate from any of those, then you feel like you're doing it wrong.

But the truth is that there is no right or wrong, and every writer is different. So learning to accept advice as simply that, advice, and finding your own method is something I think is important. And knowing that it's OK to be different if that's what works for you is an attitude I wish we'd see more of in the advice columns.
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:iconisabienne:
Isabienne Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2012
This applies to just about anything in life. There is never just one way to do something. And it's not just okay to do things differently, I think diversity is crucial for the progress of mankind. And I'm not even just talking about art.
I wish they would teach that in school. And I wish that I would have had the courage to find my own way a lot sooner. Would have saved me from wandering around for so long and getting lost a couple of times ...

This is great advice.
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:iconkwhipkey:
KWhipkey Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2012  Professional Writer
Thank you. I agree completely. Diversity is what makes life interesting. :)
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Student Writer
When it comes to lessons for writers, this is definitely high up on the list of importance.
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:iconkwhipkey:
KWhipkey Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Professional Writer
Thanks. :)
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:iconlifeheartcross:
LifeHeartCross Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
'No one can advise or help you.... A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.' ~Rainer Maria Rilke
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:iconsaraalaska:
SaraAlaska Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I've hardly ever gotten feedback on my writing and the only thing I had gotten out of it that helped was. 1) Dieing isn't a word. 2) run on sentences.
But Gods I will give my own advance to writers out there, young and old, beginers and long time writers.
You're imagenation is priceless, no ones is like yours. You might talk to yourself pretending to be the character and have weird habbits while writing, make you're pieces of writing in to a world, leave reality for a little bit and live in that world, put yourself in to places you want you'r characters to face and watch it all unfold, then think about it how you'r character would, most of the time it won't be a very big difference because you know what? No matter how much the characters and settings seem like the exact opposit of you, they still have pieces of you inside of them. Grow to learn them like real people, most of the time they'll end up as you best friends even the ones you hate.
Although becoming their friends sucks when they were suppose to die, but oh well.
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:iconchibilovett:
ChibiLovett Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
The best advice I think I've ever gotten since I have problems with actually finishing longer stories is something Kristen Chandler said during a class I took from her.

Don't be a bleeder. Be a vomiter. Don't try to pump out a few extremely eloquent lines a day and analyze every line you write to make it perfect. Get the thing written really quick so you can get the story done, then go back when you're finished and make it sound pretty.

It won't help everyone, but it's helped me more than anything else. Now I just need to be able to actually do that. xD
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:icondaydreamerwonderland:
So true. I've done it with my stories. The words I write sound lame and unoriginal at first but it's best to get the words down first then go back. I've turned my plain stories into gold after some editing. Replace the most common words with something less used. A thesaurus helps a lot. Good advice!
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Student Writer
There are pros and cons to this kind of advice - But if it helps, then that's definitely a big point in its favour.

When it comes to finishing longer works - such as novels or scripts - I think it's a matter of time and experience. Finishing a big project is a milestone that is hard to reach on your first try. But it happens eventually and it's important not to rush it and learn all the lessons on the way there. That's my experience.
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:iconchibilovett:
ChibiLovett Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Like I said, I don't know how well it'll help others, but it's been what's helped me the most. Even if I haven't been able to fully utilize it because it's really hard to fully silence that inner critic while I'm getting the story down, I've gotten quite a bit done just by attempting. If it helps others, then all the better. If it doesn't, then they can ignore it and pretend they never heard it. I'm just speaking from my own experience, but I know everyone is different.
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Student Writer
I'm just speaking from my own experience...

And that's exactly what I wanted people to do.

I'm not saying your advice was wrong or even bad. I'm just saying :)
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:iconcarusmm:
carusmm Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
A lesson for all writers is that experience counts for a lot.
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:iconrazgriz-3:
Razgriz-3 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012
When experiencing that rather-demonic thing some call writer's block, either watch a good movie or read a good... other literary work. Especially on this site. You can find bits of inspiration in anything.
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:iconlupina24:
Lupina24 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Research. Make a method to your madness, even if it's a fictional component for sci-fi or fantasy story. Know what the hell you're writing about. Nothing is worse than a writer presenting inconsistent and/or incorrect information. It will sound idiotic on the page; no matter how smart you are.
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:iconyourdoom243:
yourdoom243 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Professional Writer
1. Its best to fly away from the Christmas trees if they attempt to attack you.
2. If you don't have a good promotional strategy for your writing, you will die alone.
3. Potentially with a form of dementia.

Also write what you would love to read, not what's easy to write. Even if it takes months or years, and you're not entirely certain you'll finish it.

[link]
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Professional Writer
READ.
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:iconlive-jackson:
Live-Jackson Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student General Artist
This ^
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:iconbrotherdiaz:
BrotherDiaz Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
NOW
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
My advice would be: write from your heart. Just write about the characters you love the most, show the world what they can do, and don't hold anything back. Don't listen to mean people, because probably your story is good.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
What do you recommend if your story's bad, or the person saying it's bad happens to be your dream agent?
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
Well if your story is bad write it again until it's good and you like it.

If your dream agent says its bad then maybe they arent' your dream agent.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
How (or when) does someone know their story's good if they thought the bad version was also good?

So you should give up and settle for a third rater because a person who knows what they're talking about says you're not there yet? I would rather learn from the experience. People can always improve their writing.
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
Well you can know your story is good when you read it over. Like sometimes you write something and you're like "thats bad I could do better"
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I am talking the case where you write complete junk and think it is the best thing ever.
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
Well usually you can tell. Like, when you're reading something over you can be all like "Does this sound forced?"

I think this post explains it pretty well. [link]
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Sounding forced isn't the only indicator of bad writing, it's just an indicator of bad planning.
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(1 Reply)
:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Student Writer
Thank you to everybody who has posted in this thread so far and I hope more people keep sharing their wisdom on the matter. There has been some great advice!
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Right, a follow up was needed.

Your worth as a person is not inextricably linked to your writing. Take criticism and rejection with grace, not defensiveness.
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:iconthe-theory-liz:
The-Theory-Liz Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Best advice ever: first drafts always suck. Just write, you can make it better when you revise and edit. However, I already knew that. :B

Also, as a writer you need to keep yourself humble. So, be prepared for the chainsaw, and then glue it all back together to make it better. :meow:

Write about what you care about the most. You can never write about something that doesn't make you tick.
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Student Writer
you need to keep yourself humble.

For so many reasons, yes.
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:iconthe-theory-liz:
The-Theory-Liz Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
:nod:
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:iconbornwiththesun:
BornWithTheSun Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Know where you're going with your story. If you don't, your story will go nowhere.

Thus I write plot outlines. :D Not that plot outlines are required. People can write without them, but I find that's the easiest way to keep track of what's supposed to happen and avoid unnecessary content. :)
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Student Writer
I find it helps a lot to know the ending before you begin.

Whatever it means in practice for the individual - Knowing where you're going is really important.
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:iconbornwiththesun:
BornWithTheSun Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
It is much better than getting five chapters to the end and wondering how you're going to resolve the story. I also like to know the middle, too, so I don't ramble. As good as it sounds, sometimes you can't "just write". You have to plan too.
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:iconalysataladay:
AlysaTaladay Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
"Know right from the start if this is a hobby horse for your own amusement or if you want other people to enjoy your work." What if it's both?

My advice: Your characters know what they want. Feel free to plot against them, but let them speak for themselves. Don't just marry Joe and Sue because you felt they needed to marry. Let them follow their own path. You might find you like the results much better than the original storyboard. So what if it's longer? That means there's more to love, right?

On that note: A storyboards is a guideline, not the story itself. Don't get upset because you haven't reached the next plot point, yet, and don't force your way there. Don't get upset if it doesn't come out as you planned. Work with what you've got. Play chess with your characters. There are many crossroads this way, and that can be as exciting as it is daunting! Look at what they've given you, and use that as your guideline to your next big plot point. Take a break if you have to, and think it over for a few days. Get some fresh air and rediscover the rest of the world for a while.

It's okay to make changes. Sometimes, a scene just needs to go. "Murder your children," as the saying goes. Sometimes, things just need to change.

Ahh the things I tell myself to reassure myself ... I hope it helps someone!
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Student Writer
How can your characters decide things when they don't exist? You're the one who controls them because you create them. If you have a plot in mind, you create the character you need in order to go along with that plot.
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:iconalysataladay:
AlysaTaladay Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Lol lots of writers talk as thought their characters live. To me, a character is not a well-developed character until it feels so alive to me that it can argue my decisions with me. I tend do things intuitively, and I have music and stuff for different characters to help me. Certain traits help strength their individuality; only, I have to go with what feels right. If it doesn't feel right, then I'm just forcing things, and that doesn't generally go well for me. :)
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Student Writer
Perhaps you haven't learned how to control the flow of your creative juices just yet?

If you're arguing with yourself, maybe you don't know what it is you really want out of your story.

Do you generally create the characters first, or the plot? Generally, what do you consider the purpose of a plot to be?
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:iconalysataladay:
AlysaTaladay Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
The plot was pre-established, and has largely been so for a good ten or twelve years (depending on which part of the plot we're talking about). Letting the characters drive it has done amazing, wonderful things for it in giving the overall work a lot more life than it originally had. Many of the characters were established along with the original plot, but many of those that I created were just ideas I had, with no life to them. Most of those are now abandoned concepts. Many of my current characters were created by the plot, out of the need to have them there, which is driven by the other characters.

The plot is the main character's journey, and I think it should be allowed to evolve and mature, along with everything else in one's universe. I have a pre-established idea of where I think it should go, but I find the original "script" to have a great deal more depth and meaning now than it did. The "arguments" often tend to be over plot points that no longer seem to fit, for one reason or another, or over decisions that I can see coming, and don't necessarily want, but I can't avoid, because it would either be totally out of character or would make no sense at all to force things to proceed as originally planned.

The difference, for me, is between writing about people's lives and writing about sketches or objects, put in place merely because I said they should be there.

I hope that makes sense.
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Student Writer
There is no such thing as letting the characters drive it, because they do not exist. You create them, you are always the one driving it. A fictional entity has control over nothing.

What do you think the purpose of a plot is? I'd like to hear your opinion on this. What do you think the purpose of having characters is?

Also, if you have been working on the story for ten years, the most likely reason it is better in its current form is because you have matured greatly from when you first came up with it.

Everything is always there because you said they should be there, and that is the factual truth, because no matter how much you would like to believe it, your characters are not real, they do not and can not decide anything for themselves. Ultimately, everything is a decision made by you.

Either you can learn to take control of your creativity, or you can let your creativity be dominated by whatever whims you are feeling at the moment.
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:iconalysataladay:
AlysaTaladay Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Then let's call it intuition. It makes things more personal to refer to intuition by various names. If you're writing a story, then you're writing about characters and you're writing about their world. They, the fictional entities, have personalities of their own; or a least, they should feel that way to the reader. If that is the case, then why shouldn't they feel that way to the writer? To a certain degree, they have absolute control. If you go against what would come naturally to them, you're forcing your story, and I can't stand it when a story feels like the author forced it out of their rear. I've written far too much that sounds that way, and I've read far too much. Maybe I'm just absurdly critical, but I feel that your writing should express something of yourself. It's an art, not a science. Whatever you write, you draw from within yourself. In a manner of speaking, your characters are real, because they're a part of you.

A plot, simply put, is a climactic point in the character's lives. Characters exist to populate the given world. As in life, they are people who create and resolve conflict. You might as well be asking what the purpose of writing is. What's the purpose of art? As a self-expressive field, that purpose is entirely up to you? What do you want out of your writing? What do you want out of your story? Are you trying to prove a political point? Are you trying to make a societal statement? Or are you just writing about people's lives because you enjoy doing it? Maybe it's a mix of all of the above. I do it because I enjoy it. It's purpose is simply to be, and to be enjoyed.

Of course I have matured, but I have noted a drastic change in my writing since adopting a more intuitive style. I have been over this same stupid manuscript so many times I could scream, and each time it has improved. I enjoy this style so much better, however, than my past attempts to translate storyboards and timelines into text.

Control must be applied, to some degree, but to let it run the whole show stagnates things, for me. Too much control, and you're second-guessing yourself. I find myself so bogged down in the art of writing "pretty" things that the story becomes unreadable (I spent four years in high school writing classes ... I know all about the use and extensive abuse of flowery words and metaphors - and visual artists do it, too ... "this painting is an expression of x because of y and a means b because of c." As a good friend once said, "Sometimes a rabbit is just a rabbit.").

I'm not saying to cut back on words - oh, no, I have been told to do that, and I simply will not - but I believe in engaging my readers, and to do that, I have to let go of some control and think to myself, "Is this what the characters would really do, or is this what I want them to do?"

I knew when I first posted that someone would feel the way you do about it, and that's the really beautiful thing about writing. The thing that makes it an art. There are as many right ways to do it as there are wrong. How it should be done varies from one person to the next, and what works for one person won't work for another.

The question was posed as to whether people had any advice of their own. To better answer this: Do it your way. If you are the kind of person who "feels" their way intuitively through things, then do it, and don't let someone else force your hands into doing it their way. You may or may not find yourself going through more drafts this way, but that's how writing is. You write drafts, then you fix what's wrong. Write, review, and repeat. Make charts if you have to. Be willing to experiment with new methods. Find your own path.
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Student Writer
*There is no such thing as what will naturally come to them

Sorry for the typo there.
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
I agree with you completely!

How can you write something that you characters don't wanna do? Honestly it just sounds forced whenever a writer tries to shove a "message" down someone's throats.
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