27 Powerful Writing Tips For Your First Book
When you’re writing your first book, it’s normal to wish your favorite authors could magically appear at your elbow with game-changing advice that both encourages you and shines a light on your path to becoming a published author.
Alas, there is no magic pill they can give us that will guarantee the same success for our books. Not that we need one. Because we don’t.
But many of these authors have been generous with their insights, and this post has a list of 27 tips on writing carefully picked out for courageous new authors like you.
27 Writing Tips For Your Next Or First Book
The best writing advice encourages you to let the words flow while you’re writing your first draft but also reminds you of what your readers want.
It invites you to step beyond what you know but also to treasure who and what you are.
Someday, when you’ve successfully published books of your own and found thousands of readers who love your work, you’ll have writing advice to share with those who stand where you do now.
May you be as generous with it as the authors mentioned in this post.
Tips for Writers
Bestselling authors the world over have plenty to say to their younger selves, and that alone provides a wealth of writing tips that can get you closer to writing and publishing a book your readers will read to the end and share with gusto.
So, grab a cup of something writerly, and read on!
Writing Tips for Beginners
1. Read every day. (Jane Friedman)
The best writers are also avid readers. If you read the kind of books you want to write, you’ll learn what you expect of them as a reader.
You’ll also learn makes you stop reading one book and what makes another book hard for you to put down.
But don’t limit yourself to the books in the genres you write in. You don’t have to finish everything but read as much as you can. Follow the authors whose work you love and see if you can learn anything new from them that you can apply to your own writing.
2. Get your email list started as soon as you can. (Dave Chesson)
Nothing jump starts a launch like being able to easily send a link to a large group of people who have already expressed an interest in what you write.
How often you email your list is up to you, but once you have permission to enter someone’s inbox, don’t abuse that permission by sending long-winded monologues or daily sales pitches, or your subscribers will opt out before you can tell them about the launch of your new book.
3. Get your work critiqued by a professional. (Randy Ingermanson)
It’s best to do this occasionally — not with everything you write.
We mortals can only handle so much brutal honesty in a given day.
That said, it pays to get feedback from an editor who knows what the readers of your genre want and whose criticism can help you grow to write better.
4. Start publishing your work online. (Bryan Collins)
Don’t wait until it’s perfect, because it never will be. Get your words out there and risk criticism.
Yes, you should edit your work before you publish it, but don’t hold onto it out of fear that someone out there will read it and take the time to tear it apart in a comment.
It doesn’t feel good, but risking those critical comments and reviews is a necessary part of growing as a writer.
The sooner you start putting yourself out there, the sooner you’ll learn what you really want to do — and how to do it well.
5. Schedule time for writing – and honor that commitment. (Joanna Penn)
Just telling yourself, “I’m going to do some writing today,” won’t guarantee you’ll actually sit down and do it.
Schedule a specific block of time — whether it’s 15 minutes, an hour, or longer — and honor that commitment the way you would an appointment with a new client. Respect your own writing time as you would want others to respect it.
All that gloomy bunk about writer’s block cheats you into thinking you need to wait for inspiration in order to write.
But when you make a habit of showing up every day at a specific time and place, inspiration knows right where and when to find you.
6. You need a big vision but also small, deliberate steps. (Gabriela Pereira)
Succeeding as an author depends not only on having a vision for yourself and your books but on daily, consistent action toward the goals you set.
Every step, however small, matters if it honors your vision and gets you closer to one of your goals. A vision without persistent, daily action is just a daydream.
7. Develop your spiritual practices. (Lisa Tener)
Honoring your own needs — physical, mental, and spiritual — makes you better able to respect and serve those of your readers.
Whatever your beliefs, your vision and its supporting goals and actions should honor the needs of your entire being.
Take the time to cultivate daily habits that restore your spirit (quiet reflection time, meditation, etc.). While doing so, you may quietly inspire others to do the same.
8. Dive in and be scared later. (Carol Tice)
Instead of freezing up and allowing yourself to think of all the things that could go wrong or of how your writing just “isn’t there yet,” dive in and write whatever comes to mind.
Turn on the faucet, let the air out of the pipes, and let the water flow. Only then will you get anything written that you can then revise, proofread, and submit or publish yourself.
9. Take the time to learn structure. (C.S. Lakin)
Respect your reader’s need for a well-constructed and organized book or story.
Even a skeletal outline can help with this, without restricting your creative flow.
Having a structure in place that ensures a satisfying resolution to your storyline can actually be more liberating than restrictive.
Related Post: How to Outline a Non-Fiction Book
10. Understand that story trumps structure. (Steven James)
As important as structure is, the story and its characters are what will win over your readers. Let them, rather than your outline, guide you in the writing of your story.
It’s the rare well-developed protagonist (or antagonist) who won’t look over your shoulder while you peek at your outline and say things like, “Well, that’s not me at all!” or “Oh, no… We’re doing that differently!”
Even with nonfiction, a compelling story can bring your content to life and tie it to your readers’ experience in a way that “stick to the outline” writing never could. So, let the words for your story flow as they come.
The outline is a servant, not the master.
11. Don’t rush into publishing. (James Scott Bell)
Don’t be in such a hurry to publish your book that you cheat yourself of the opportunity to refine what you’ve written.
Give yourself a day or even a week or longer to step away from your work, and the next time you read it through, you’ll no doubt see plenty of ways to improve it.
A week isn’t too long to wait before you revise your first draft. Some writers wait a month! (I’ve never lasted that long.)
12. Don’t use your introversion as an excuse. (Debbie Ohi)
You knew this was coming, right? It’s so easy to use introversion as an excuse to hold back from anything that involves socializing. I know, because I’ve done it.
It’s the excuse that holds us back — not the introversion itself.
So, I’ll tell you what I had to tell myself: Stop thinking of your introversion as an obstacle. Introversion is a different gift from extroversion, but you have it for a reason.
It might make it harder sometimes to reach out for help or to extend help when a fellow writer needs it, but once you get over that initial resistance, your introversion can also make it easier to see the need for what it is and meet it more generously.
13. Stop doubting yourself. (Jennie Nash)
Don’t wait for someone else to decide you’re a good-enough writer or that you have a shot at succeeding as an author.
Decide for yourself and take the steps you need to take to get there.
Ultimately, even if you’re surrounded by people telling you, “You should write a book,” you’re the one who has to want it badly enough to get down to the business of writing one.
14. Pay attention to details. (Chris Fabry)
Take the time to notice the sensory information around you and practice recreating it in your writing.
It forces you to slow down and soak up more of the present moment. And you never know how meaningful those details might become later on — to you or to your reader.
15. Put your readers’ needs first. (DiAnn Mills)
Ultimately, if you want to become a successful published author, you need to serve your readers’ needs before your own.
As much as you might want readers to rave about your colorful turns of phrase or your detailed character descriptions, your readers are more likely to want a story that keeps moving at a pace that holds their interest.
A good editor won’t let you get away with keeping content that doesn’t serve the reader.
16. Do not go it alone. (Philip Yancey)
Yes, writing is a solitary act, but creating a book your readers will love is not — or it shouldn’t be. You need the fresh eyes of a competent editor to help you improve what you’ve written.
Even having one or two good beta readers can be the difference between a story that no one bothers to finish and one that earns lifelong fans and enthusiastic reviews.
17. Start building your tribe now. (Saundra Dalton-Smith)
Building relationships with your potential readers comes before writing a story that will blow them away.
You need to know what they love and what they expect from the books they read before you can create something they’ll find impossible to put down.
Those who already know and enjoy what you write are also more likely to sign up for your email list.
If they trust you not to waste their inbox time, they’ll also trust you to keep your writing tight and engaging in other media (including that new book you hope they’ll want to read).
18. Step out of your comfort zone and say “Yes” to new challenges. (Becca Puglisi)
You never know what you might learn from new experiences — particularly those that push you right up against those walls of resistance and dare you to step beyond them.
You don’t have to say “Yes” to everything, but the more open you are to new challenges, the more you enable yourself to grow as a writer.
On a related note, don’t lock yourself into thinking you should only write one type of writing and leave the rest (thank you, William Noble).
It’s fine to discover you have a favorite, but don’t assume you should only write that type and no other. Don’t let anyone tell you “Stick with what you’re good at,” because you weren’t always good at those things, and you can get good at others, too.
19. Build a support network. (Jessica Strawser)
The sooner you tap into networks of fellow writers and establish relationships with those whose values are compatible with your own, the sooner you’ll realize and be able to rejoice in the fact that you’re not alone in this goal of becoming a successful published author.
In these networks, you’ll find supportive accountability partners, empathetic and honest critique partners, and a writing family that knows there’s room for all sorts.
You’ll find these people in Facebook groups for writers (Authority Self-Publishing, for example), writing conventions and conferences, genre-based organizations, and in-person writing critique groups.
Not all who attend these will be a good fit for your network, but the more you reach out to others, the more gems you’re likely to find.
Related Post: How to Start a Facebook Group as a Self-Published Author
20. Write daily, but not just for productivity. (Patricia Raybon)
Write to discover who you are and what you’re good at. Write to enjoy getting to know yourself, to celebrate your strengths, and to honestly acknowledge your weaknesses.
For the same reason, publish regularly but not daily; give yourself time and space to polish what you’ve written, because writing is as much a process of discovery as of creation.
Write every day, if you can, and put your words out there, not just to “have published” but because it helps you develop into the person you want to be.
21. Don’t wait. (Julie Duffy)
Don’t wait to write until you have something “important” to say. Start now, so that when you have something you need to say, you’ll have the tools to articulate it. Start now, so you can begin learning and improving as you go.
I love these words by Julie Duffy:
“You’re easier to live with when you’re writing, so claim the time you need, and don’t wait.”
If you can also relate to these words on a personal level, post them somewhere you’ll see them every day, and live by them!
22. Write only those books you feel called to write. (Randy Alcorn)
Write books that come from the ideas that, as Randy Alcorn puts it, “fit your heart, convictions, writing, and style — not someone else’s.”
This advice is tied to the earlier reminder to put your readers’ needs before your own because the books you feel personally compelled to write are often those that serve a need you’ve witnessed in every soul or in a specific group of people.
But it also ties you to that need in an intimate way, because no one else can write the book you feel called to write. It has to be you.
No one else can write it the way you can. And no one else will be 100% invested in making that book all that it can and should be.
23. Cultivate your skills as a self-editor. (Jerry Jenkins)
Before you submit anything for publication or to your editor, do what you can to improve it.
Every word should earn its place. Don’t assume it’s your editor’s job to fix your mistakes and convert a disorganized mess into a bestselling book or novel.
Be the kind of self-editor you hope other writers will be before they send you their advanced reader copies.
24. Use checklists. (Steve and Barrie )
Checklists can help you keep track of all the things you need to do to write your book, self-edit your drafts, and prepare it for publication and launch day.
And if you haven’t already, you can download our Bestseller Checklist.
25. Protect the time and space in which you write. (Zadie Smith)
You need your own time and space to write every day — or as close to every day as you can manage.
Just as you need space and time away from your work to be able to see it with fresh eyes and make it more beautiful, you need space and time away from everyone and everything that makes it impossible to enter or remain in a state of creative flow.
It should go without saying that, in order to respect your writing time, you need to disconnect from all the distractions on the internet.
Easier said than done, right? We know how that is.
The Freedom app can help with this by enabling you to block access to distracting websites during your scheduled writing time.
26. Always carry a notebook. (Will Self)
Don’t rely on your short-term memory to hold onto everything. Keep a small pocket notebook with you to capture any ideas, revelations, etc. that come to mind. Even the act of writing down those thoughts helps you remember them.
Trying to store all that in your head makes it impossible to practice mindfulness. Give yourself permission to “download” the thoughts that are better saved for later and to focus on the present.
While you’re downloading thoughts for later, use some of that paper space to express gratitude for the good you have in your life at that moment. And if you have the time, add details that, however small, have meaning for you.
27. Keep learning. (Joe Bunting)
Don’t assume you already know everything there is to know about writing a book or a well-crafted story. No author, no matter how successful, knows everything there is to know about writing. So, keep learning.
And don’t forget to have fun with it! If writing is something you can’t not do, it shouldn’t be hard to find joy in the process of becoming a better writer and a published author of bestselling books.
You are a creator, after all. You get to create something with your words, and you get to learn how to make it beautiful. That alone is reason enough to love being — and becoming — an author.
Enjoy the process – and keep it going!
While your path to becoming a successful published author will be unique to you, the lessons learned by writers before you can help make the path a bit straighter and less bumpy than it might otherwise be.
Thanks to them, you don’t have to learn everything the hard way.
So, keep showing up every day to write your book, and learn what you can to refine it and prepare it for a successful launch. All of us here at Authority Pub are rooting for you!
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