Writing Advice to Welcome a New Year
December 31, 2019
Note From Rochelle
I’m taking this week off to read, reflect and connect with my family. I will be back in the office on January 6, 2020.
Today’s tip gathers writing advice from some of my favorite writers.
Writing Advice to Welcome a New Year
Thanks to self-publishing, more people are writing books than ever before. And many of those people have advice to offer you. But not all writing advice is created equal. Some of it presents tales of luck and magic that no one can replicate: “I met my agent at a party in NYC, and here’s how you can, too!”
For today’s tip, I asked my writing friends to offer you their favorite piece of writing advice from the past year. Some of it comes from their own work, some comes from their favorite authors, and some of it comes from novels. But all of it will help prepare you for a successful New Year of writing.
Silvia Acevedo, author of God Awful Loser and two other books in the mythological series
My favorite piece of writing advice in 2019 comes from Adriana Domíngez, agent at Full Circle Literary, who champions diversity. Domínguez advises writers to not write how we think others want to see us, but to be authentic to ourselves, as authenticity is instantly recognizable by readers. I feel it’s a call to tell stories that are important to us and to dive deeply in the telling.
Angela Ackerman, co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression
One of my favorite pieces of advice is to find ways to make your characters vulnerable. Even though we may be dealing with characters who are stoic, tough, or have their shields up because life has thrown them nothing but curve balls, we still need a way to get past their armor and let readers see their softer side. So build in story moments where the shield slips to show the human underneath. As people, we all have doubts, insecurities, worries and fears, and to connect fully, readers need to see that the characters in your story do too.
Elizabeth Cole, author of Wake Me Up, the third book in the Brothers Salem series
In addition to writing, I do a lot of freelance work. It can be very difficult to balance client requests with my own projects. So I made myself a client! Now, if an unscheduled request will infringe on my own writing goals, I say “I’m sorry, my time is already booked with another client. Let’s find a later time to turn this around.” This statement both sounds professional and keeps you on track for your own work. I highly recommend this. None of my clients have ever objected, and it has helped me manage my time better week by week.
Connie Habash, author of Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, and Courageous Life
Remember who you’re writing for. As a writer of non-fiction, this has been especially important for me, keeping me focused and inspired. I love visualizing my ideal reader, thinking about her life, seeing her reactions, feeling what she’d feel, and considering what she’d want to hear that would be helpful. It’s made my writing more intimate, playful, compassionate, and gentle while I encourage her on the path of growth. By writing with and for my ideal reader, the book writing process is a journey we take together, and my readers seem to feel the same when they peruse the pages.
Kathryn Haueisen, author of Asunder
Don’t go it alone. Find a writing community and get involved through critique groups, workshops, socials, conferences, etc. You will meet people who know things you need to learn who will introduce you to people you need to meet. Also, you’ll already know things others need to know and already know people others should get to know. The former makes you a student of writing and publishing, and thus more likely to be successful. The latter reminds you how much you’ve already learned and how many inroads into the publishing world you’ve already made. This will do wonders for your self-confidence which will surely be in sort supply from time to time.
Jane Kelley, author of The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya
There’s a lot of excellent advice about HOW to write. In the essay, “Magic Carpets,” in the collection Daemon Voices, Philip Pullman reminds me of WHY. “There is a joy too in responsibility itself––in the knowledge that what we’re doing on earth while we live is being done to the best of our ability and in the light of everything we know about what is good and true. Art, whatever kind of art it is, is like the mysterious music described in the words of the greatest writer of all, the ‘sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.’”
J. Mercer, author of Triplicity
There are so many pieces of writing advice out there, most of it contradictory, so I tend to prefer the more inspirational stuff – the advice that gets me motivated and excited about being a writer, such as: “There is no difference between the practice and the art. The practice IS the art.” – Dani Shapiro. This is also a very important reminder that reaching perfection doesn’t happen right away, and it will never happen in a first draft, so take some pressure off yourself and just put the words on the page. Worry about how they make sense in revisions, because that’s what revisions are for. Ultimately, the pursuit is what counts, the perseverance, which brings me to some of my other favorite pieces of writing advice, which aren’t really about writing at all, but life in general. So I’ll leave you with this Jennifer Lee quote with which to ring in the New Year: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”
Rochelle Melander, author of Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination, and Increase Productivity
I have two tiny pieces of advice that spoke to me this year. The first comes from the book The Reunion by Guillame Musso and reminds me of why I write:
“During my free time—and I had a lot—I did the one thing that brought me calm: I wrote stories. Since I could not control my own life, I invented radiant worlds free of the fears that plagued me. There is such a thing as a magic wand—in my case, it took the form of a ballpoint pen. For a dollar fifty, I had access to a device that could transform reality, set it right, even refute it.”
The second comes from Holly Smale’s book Geek Girl:
“You need to stop caring what people who don’t matter think of you. Be who you are and let everybody else be who they are. Differences are a good thing. It would be a terribly boring world if we were all the same.”
About the Authors
Silvia Acevedo is a journalist and novelist. Her most recent book is God Awful Rebel, the third and final book in her God Awful mythological series. Silvia is also co-regional advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin.
Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, (now an expanded second edition) and its many sequels. She is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers, as well as One Stop for Writers, an innovative creative library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Elizabeth Cole writes both historical and paranormal romance. Her newest book came out in October, the spooky, sexy Wake Me Up: elizabethcole.co/wake-me-up. She adores tea, basketball, and cats, not necessarily in that order.
Rev. Connie L. Habash, LMFT, is a spiritual mentor, psychotherapist, yoga teacher, and author of Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, and Courageous Life. Connect with her on her website, https://www.AwakeningSelf.com
Kathryn Haueisen writes fiction, non-fiction, and articles about people and situations making a positive impact on our global village. She writes from Houston where she shares her life with her husband and spoiled miniature poodle. Whatever money she makes from writing she either gives to people doing worthwhile things or spends traveling.
Jane Kelley’s MG novels include The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya, which was a CCBC Best Book. Her most recent work is: The Escapades of Clint McCool. For more information, please visit http://janekelleybooks.com
J Mercer’s latest novel, Triplicity, won both a Moonbeam and a Readers’ Favorite Book Award, and her next will be coming out in 2020. Follow her on Instagram for more book recommendations and writing tips.
Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach, experienced publishing strategist, and artist educator. She is the author of eleven books, including Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity.
A note on the links in this post: yes, those are affiliate links. I earn a tiny bit for each book you buy. Still, I recommend that whenever possible, you order these books from your local independent bookstore.