Write every day.
Do not write tomorrow what you can write today.
Write as often and as much as you can. Write even when you do not want to. Do not wait for inspiration. As Jack London put it, go after it with a club.
Have a daily word count.
Write first for your characters, to bring them to life. Then write for yourself. And then write for others.
Write your story before you write anything else in the day, so that you give it your freshest words.
Write with nouns and verbs and throw out adjectives and adverbs. Do not worry: some adjectives and adverbs will always find their way back on the page.
Do not try to write perfectly, but rather to write well. To write well means to tell good lies.
Observe the world around you. Seek to understand what the leaves whisper, and what rumors the wind carries, and why the sun is so constant and the moon so mysterious. Notice what other people do and try to understand why they do it, and how they feel doing it.
Do not try to write striking sentences. Write plainly, clearly, and striking sentences will surface on their own.
Do not allow your writing to sound like pompous literature. Use figurative language only if it occurs naturally. Do not consciously think of metaphors and similes.
Write from within. The essence of your story should be based on something powerful you have experienced, rather than on a clever idea you have thought about or discovered through reading, so that you write not only with your head, but also with your heart.
How you write your life offpage is as important as how you write it onpage. There is an invisible energy behind the text, an energy that transcends technical ability, and that makes some books and some authors greater than others. Everything you do offpage goes into that energy.
When you are not writing, think about your story, imagining characters and scenes. Note down or record the good ideas.
Find something that fuels your writing. My fuel is melancholy.
Edit days or weeks after writing, not sooner. Do not pause while writing to edit, not even to fix typos or misspelled words.
Take a break of at least one week after writing your story before rewriting it. During that brake work on another story.
Do not show your writing to anyone until you have given it all you have to give. Writing groups and cliques are good for editing and reviewing your work, but they are a distraction while you are writing your story. The writing of your first book is an intimate experience, like having sex for the first time. You would not do it in front of others.
Your story can never be finished, but only abandoned. Abandon your story when your interest for it wanes. That’s when the time has come for you to move on.
If you have to write erotic scenes and happen to be single, make love with yourself before, to maintain your concentration during the act of writing.
Set realistic writing goals and note them down. Set deadlines. They will make you write more and write better.
Do not think about publishing until you are ready to abandon your story.
Do not write to publish, but publish to keep writing. The chief benefits of writing are in the writing process itself. In the introspection, in the play with language, in the creation of other versions of your life. Publishing is a bonus, like a night of sex after a whole day of romantic friendship.
Do not expect the story you write to be significant for others. If it is significant for you, it is enough; you will enjoy writing it, and will not regret any moment you devote to it. It will teach you much about yourself and the world, and it will pacify your restlessness, to some extent.
These tips sum up what I have learned about writing since I made up my mind to teach myself English and write a novel, three and a half years ago. I note them here so I won’t forget them. PS: Some are based on personal experiences.(This was first posted last year.)
If you’ve liked these tips, which was your favorite?