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June 27, 2013

Thirteen Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Writers

Thursday Thirteen

I’ve been in a writing mood recently, which is great from my point of view. Today, I wrote “the end” on my current work in progress. Since my mind is in the groove, I thought I’d give some advice to aspiring authors.

1. Sit down and write every day. Make writing into a good habit.

2. Join a writing group, either a chapter or an online community for support.

3. Read and read widely. Analyze books that work for you and those that don’t. Use them as a learning tool.

4. Make a point to learn about websites and social media.

5. Enter writing competitions to help yourself improve and also to give yourself a writing deadline.

6. Research markets, agents and editors to familiarize yourself with what publishers and agents are looking for. This will help you narrow down who to submit your book to. If you’re thinking about self-publishing learn as much as you can about the process.

7. Keep a record of how much you can comfortably write each day. Knowledge of your possible output will help you once you’re published and facing deadlines.

8. Take online classes and attend conferences to learn as much as you can. I’ve been published for a while now, and I’m still learning!

9. When it comes to actual plotting, try all the different methods. Plotting, pansting and in between until you find a method that works for you.

10. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. There is only your way.

11. Find a critique partner/s to help critique your work and critique other writers’ work. This is a learning process too.

12. Once you’ve completed and polished your book send it off to your chosen publisher or agent. While you’re waiting, start work on your next book. If you’re self-publishing, complete the publishing process and start work on the next book.

13. Celebrate each success because writing is a difficult business and plain hard work.

Do you have any suggestions to add to my list?


  1. CountryDew

    I love #10. So true!

    • Shelley Munro

      Each writer has their own style and plan of attack when it comes to writing a book. Writers should definitely follow their own plan rather than force themselves to follow someone elses.

  2. Anthony North

    Great advice. Although I’ve never attended a writing course, read a how to book or joined a writing circle.

    • Shelley Munro

      You’re right, Anthony. They’re not necessary, although they do help writers learn and from feeling isolated.

  3. Alice Audrey

    I used to be so much better about so much of this. It’s hard to do it all year after year.

    • Shelley Munro

      That’s true, although a lot of it comes from habit.

  4. Pearl

    Read, read, write, edit, edit. Yes.

    I might quibble with 10. I’ve seen a lot of people publish with crazy margins, illegible fonts, typos, cover stock less heavy than the paper stock of the pages, trilogies that are long-winded, ungrammatical, plot accidentally conflicting with itself, and uncontrolled. Often with no one seeing the books before they hit print. It’s a slow art to be comprehensible.

    • Shelley Munro

      Formatting is one thing that should be followed. When I say follow your own plan I mean the actual writing/ plotting part.

  5. Mary Kirkland

    My one big piece of advice is to keep a notebook with you at all times. (Of course in this digital age you can also use notepad on your electronic device lol)

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a great idea for an article and didn’t write it down only to forget what I was thinking about later.

    • Shelley Munro

      That’s excellent advice. Don’t think you’ll remember your brilliant idea either because it will probably fall right out of your head. At least they do from my head.

  6. Jennifer Leeland

    I love these. I find that crit partners are GOLD!!!! PURE GOLD! And more scarce than gold too. LOL!
    Another tip? Things change–your routine, your career, publishing–be FLEXIBLE!

    • Shelley Munro

      I hear you on the gold bit. Finding a critique partner who meshes isn’t easy.
      Flexibility is a good addition to the list.

  7. Rekaya Gibson

    Good post with some awesome reminders.
    Thanks for sharing.

    The Food Temptress

  8. Colleen@LooseLeafNotes

    I wasn’t sure what pansting meant. Good pointers here, particularly for fiction writers.

    • Shelley Munro

      Pantsing is when you just sit down and write with no clear idea of the direction your heading.