Monday, April 7, 2014

7 Writing Tips to Keep You Sane---guest blogger, Kate Hawkins

Today we welcome guest blogger, Kate Hawkins! Welcome to All Things Writing!--Mary Ann

    When I am writing, I usually get scenes, short plots, and/or characters in my head. THAT'S what inspires my writing. It might be a single, short, boring scene that inspires me. It might be some movie. Heck, it may even be another author's book. My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, just like everyone else's. For me, the hard part of writing is plotting the whole story. Occasionally, I'll slip up where the characters are involved. I have to change a few characters and a few relationships throughout the story. I have to add and kill characters fairly quickly. When a writer says that writing isn't easy, they're right. It takes a lot of rewriting and editing and changing your plans to create a piece that sings.

 Most authors know what they're talking about. I've seen a lot of tips for writing, and when I created this site, I added 'and tricks' simply because I liked the sound of it. In reality, there are no tricks to writing. There aren't any shortcuts. You can't wave a magical wand and end up with an amazing story, or even a poor one. Writing takes experience, which I am lacking in because I've learned almost nothing about writing these past few years. (Texas has changed their state tests, and our main focus has shifted to essays. Not a sentence of fiction.)
So, I'm going to give some tips of my own. Honestly, I haven't tested any of them. They're mostly theoretical.

Tip 1: Set a daily word count
I see this one everywhere, and if you've looked at writing T&T before, you probably have too. It's everywhere. Honestly, I've never tried it, but I want to. Personally, if you're like me, a 750 word count sounds good. And don't worry; it's not as long as it seems. It's just over a paragraph or two. Also, most typing programs (Word, Notepad, etc.) have an automatic word counter. This word count, as far as I remember, is just a minimum. However, I wouldn't go over 800 words total. That way, if I still had ideas, I could save them for the next day.

Tip 2: Join a writing group
Most schools have some sort of creative writing club. I've never been to one, and I'm not sure how it works, but I intent to pay a few visits this coming school year. I don't know if they do poetry, fiction, research papers, or fantasy, or a mix of all of them, although I'm hoping for a fiction group. That way, I can promote this website as well as my other one where I post my writings. (

Tip 3: Constructive Criticism
This is EXTREMELY important. Coming from someone who knows what they're talking about, this can help your writing immensely. If you don't have anyone telling you how to get better, you wont improve. I haven;'t gotten constructive criticism in years, and I realized how little I've improved when I found a story I wrote in middle school. There really isn't much I want to change. It's staying almost the same as it was four years ago! So, this is important. This is where your writing will get better and how it will evolve.

Tip 4: Edit and Rewrite
I hate this part of writing. I hate rereading my work. It's awful. But, unfortunately, I know I should do it. In my other work (Again on I haven't edited or rewritten anything outside of Dakota's story, and that was only redone because the story was no longer a collaboration; my partner is no longer available for it. So, I have to change it and change characters and such, even though the plot is staying mostly the same.

Tip 5: Get Good Feedback
This, IMO, is important. If you don't have anyone telling you you're good or that you have potential, you're not going to want to write anymore. This is a big confidence booster. However, don't let it go to your head. Make sure to remember the constructive criticism when you write.

Tip 6: Show off your work
What's the point of writing if no one's going to read your work? Yes, some people may enjoy writing for themselves, but most people I know hate it. Personally, if I'm not getting views for my websites, I get lazy and stop posting. It doesn't have to be many views (I get excited about two unknown people visiting.), but any readers, regular or not, are good. However, try your hardest to get regular readers early on. If you're posting a chapter every other week like I am for three stories, new readers can get overwhelmed fairly quickly.

Tip 7: Run your work by friends
  I do this quite often with one of my friends. She helps me come up with great ideas to help keep my story moving. This step is also important to me, because without her input, I'd have a very, VERY boring story. And I don't even realize it until I hear her opinion! So, this seems to be a great idea to me. It may fall under the feedback category, but it is helpful.

To learn more about Kate, drop by her website