What does it even mean to be a "new writer"?
To be honest, I’m not sure what constitutes a writer as a “new” writer.
When you first start writing, it’s because you are a writer — otherwise what the hell are you doing right?
I can relate to the feeling of being a new writer when I first decided to take my writing more seriously and realized I wanted to write professionally and not just for myself.
Though to be honest, it never felt like a choice, so much as it felt like the way things were meant to go, and as usual with me, I came to that realization a little later than the average writer would have.
Whatever it is that makes you feel like you are a “new” writer, I have some tips that I want to share, that I wish I’d come across when I first took the step away from hobby writing to “real” writing. Which I personally define as “writing for myself and purely for fun” to “writing with the intent to share with others”.
It’s okay not to have it all figured out
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all the information about what it takes to be a “real” writer and quite frankly, there is no one way to be a “real” writer because success as a writer has no single definition.
When you first start putting pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, you don't have to know your publishing strategy, or even how long you intend the story to be.
You don’t have to know your target audience, you don’t have to know your author business plan for the next 5 years.
You don’t have to have a damn thing figured out beyond what it is you’re having fun writing right now.
Despite popular opinion among writers, it’s okay to figure it out as you go, and it’s okay if you have nothing planned beyond a few chapters at a time.
Writers are always learning as we go, so no, you really don’t have to have much of anything figured out as a new writer.
Build a writing habit that works for you
And worry about making a writing schedule with deadlines and predetermined word count goals later.
Having a strong writing habit is the key to strengthening your creative writing muscles and you need that more than you need a writing schedule or a word count goal for every time you sit down to write.
The way you’ll learn to create a writing schedule and word count goals that you can feel successful and accomplished with is to learn your own writing rhythms through your writing habit and set yourself up according to what works for you instead of what others say should be your writing schedule and goals.
For example, I do a lot of work around my writing every single day, but every single day is not a designated writing day for me. I’m sure I can write every day as the free advice on the internet is always suggesting I do to be successful, but my creative energy doesn’t like to be tapped into every single day and I know I produce better if I spend three days a week dedicated to my writing than when I try to write every single day.
Building your writing habit will help you learn how you define success as a writer and you can roll forward from there.
Say fuck you to limitations
It’s easy to get locked into a box with your writing, but it’s also easy to knock the walls of that box down and do whatever the hell you want.
If your goal is to write novels, don’t lock yourself into only writing novels from one point of view. Allow your creative energy room to play with prose, poetry, short stories, flash fiction, literally whatever your creative energy feels like tapping into.
Do you want to write a story in the third person? Do it.
You say you want to write a novel but an idea for a poem keeps popping into your head? Write that poem.
You often write science fiction but you have a non-fiction idea you want to explore? Do that shit.
Write what is going to make you happy even if you feel like it's somehow going against how you decide to identify as a writer. No writer writes just one thing in one way and every piece you write is a practice that’s helping you improve.
Practice practice practice
No matter where you are in your writing journey, there’s no substitute for writing practice that doesn’t include actually writing.
Yes, you do learn with every piece you write and every project you complete, but there are always ways you can improve quickly which intentional writing practices.
I’ve already spoken about some of the ways you can improve your writing but ultimately, it’s up to you to know what areas of your writing you want to improve and then do more of it so you can get better.
The important thing to remember is that not everything you write will be consumed by the masses and it’s okay to spend time practicing your descriptions or prose, or poetry before you share it.
Deciding to take your writing more seriously doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or shouldn’t work at it.
Not everything about writing is meant to be so serious.
Read a lot
And then reflect on what you’ve read.
I know I just talked about practicing your writing but a major way to do that is to keep reading things you enjoy.
Level up that reading by actively reflecting on what you read.
What did you like about the story? What did the author do that made you like the book? The character? Then go back into the pages and see how they choose their words. The placement of punctuation. The way they showed you how the characters felt instead of telling you.
If you love writing, big chances are you love reading and there is a lot your favorite stories can teach you about being a good writer, if you just look a little bit closer.
Join online writing communities
The quickest way to find your writing tribe and help to keep going through the tough job that is being a writer of any caliber is to find a writing community you like and join in.
For obvious reasons I’m not going to suggest in-person meet-ups and workshops but there are thousands of writing communities out there with an open seat for you, just waiting for you to come in, sit down (virtually) and share your work.
Joining a writing community is a great place to find encouragement, the advice in whatever step of your writing process you are in, and they are a great source of motivation once you realize all of us writers have the same woes and worries.
Writing is hard enough without the added pressure of trying to get everything perfect and “just right” the first time around. Writing takes a lot of creative energy and can be stressful in different areas of the process so don’t forget the reasons you wanted to be a writer and never forget to enjoy doing what you love for yourself first, and the public eye last.
What makes you feel like a new writer? Let me know in the comments below.