Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Blast From the Past: Top 10 Tips for Writers

Writer WordartWriter Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Time flies when you’re having fun (or not, sometimes). This post marks the first-year anniversary of this blog, and I can truly say it’s been fun (as well as occasionally brain-wrenching to come up with topics for posts every week). It’s been an amazing learning experience.

A deep thanks to everyone who’s dropped by. If you read the blog regularly or occasionally, or if you’ve just dropped in to see what this is all about, I appreciate it. A special thanks to those who have left comments, re-tweeted and re-Facebooked my posts, and referred this site to others. Your valuable input has helped keep this site going.

But this blog isn’t about me. It’s about you and this thing we share called writing.

Blogs of this type are meant primarily to promote the writer’s work, to create a buzz for forthcoming projects, and, sometimes, to sell the writer’s work. This blog aims to do all of these things (including now allowing you can purchase my comic book Gold Dust). But it also aims to do more: to explore this preoccupation we call writing, to share writing advice, and to analyze good and bad writing—particularly as it pertain to the often maligned but nevertheless popular genre of super-heroes.

I hope to continue to explore these interests well into the future; in the meantime, let’s take a trip through some of The Semi-Great Gildersleeve's Greatest Hits. In no particular order, here are my Top Ten Writing Tips: 

1. Write a Sloppy First Draft. This comes straight from Anne Lamott, author of the influential Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Don’t be afraid to let your first efforts suck — they should suck. Get your story down on paper, and then make it better through revision.

2. Face Your Writing Fears. My very first post was about this subject. Fears related to writing can come in any disguise: Writing something stupid. Exposing your work to others. Submitting your work to an agent or publisher. Taking on the responsibility of self-publishing. 

Fears never truly go away. They simply move from one target to another. The minute you conquer one writing fear, another pops up to demand all your reserves of courage.  But hang in there. Keep your goal(s) in mind.

3. Trust the Writing Process. Another early post was about letting go of your need to control every aspect of the story. Let it go where it needs to go. Who knows? It may take you on a better journey than the one you planned.

4. Narrow Your Audience. A constant problem for novice writers is the desire to write for “everybody” or to put as little thought as possible into who’s actually going to read your book. But no book (not even Harry Potter) appeals to everyone. If by chance your novel reaches a wide audience, consider yourself blessed. Knowing your primary audience will help you focus your story and reach the readers who are most likely to appreciate your work.

5. Critique Groups are PricelessNot all critique groups work out, of course. But if you find a small group of people who are willing to read your work and give you honest, constructive feedback, hold on to them. They are your bridge between what’s inside your head and your eventual audience. 

6. Difficult Readers are Inevitable. Some readers just don’t get your work, or they have agendas of their own which they want to foist upon your book. Accept it. Deal with it. Move on.

7. Write about Your Passion. Some of the most successful posts in terms of pageviews have been those related to comic books, such as this one and this one. Funny thing is, I don’t currently read comics. They’re too expensive, and I’m frustrated by the never-ending, decompressed storytelling and reboots that have been in vogue for the last several years. But that hasn’t stopped me from writing about old comics and, to my surprise, discovering that others like to read these posts.

I also explore the world of super-heroes through novels, including writing one of my own.

8. Don’t Strive to be Too OriginalNobody wants to publish or read something that’s “unlike anything that’s ever been published,” even though, as writers, we yearn to write such a thing. Familiarity has a vital place in fiction.

9. Don’t Let Writer’s Block Stop Your Story. Two separate articles—here and here—give tips on how to ovecome writer’s block.

10. Don’t Wait for Inspiration.  Inspiration is fickle. Your real story comes from deep within you, not from the sprinkling of some magical idea that happens to land upon your head.

Thanks again, one and all, for helping to make this blog a success!  The best is yet to come.

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Dave Whitaker said...

Woo hoo! Congrats on your blog's first birthday! Nice tips as well. I'm reposting on my Writ by Whit Facebook page.

Greg Gildersleeve said...

Thanks, Dave. I appreciate the support.

SmearySoapboxPress said...

Over the last year, you've approached how to improve your writing from a lot of different angles, and your tips continue to be worth checking out. Congrats on the anniversary!

Greg Gildersleeve said...

Thanks, Dale.

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