August 01, 2008

The Daily Blog: Improve your Writing - Tips and Writing Advice

I and several other authors in the

group are participating this month in a writing challenge to post daily to our blogs. You can find the full blog list for the August Challenge at the BlogBookTours blog.

I'm one who can't turn away from a challenge, so I accepted.

Some things I plan to share this month include, tips on improving your writing, how to grow as a writer, thoughts on My Life as a Writer, and more.

I plan to share some insights, writing tips and tidbits from other authors, as well, who will talk about character development, writing a good first sentence, and other "writerly" things, so be sure to check back. (I hear your sighs of relief that it's not just me blabbing away. ha!)

Glamorous, it ain't. Useful? Hopefully.

Hammering It Out

What's the hammer got to do with writing, you wonder?

Well, if you thought being a writer was like Hollywood - parties, glamour, etc., guess again. For a few who've worked their way to that level, maybe it is. Parties aside, for most of us everyday writers, it's a job. Like a construction worker, a story is produced by hammering out the sentences, pounding out the phrases, connecting the words, until you get a finished product.

Bad analogy or not, be prepared to work, even when you don't feel like it and even if it's hard - and sometimes it is, no matter how long you've been writing. But it's worth doing.

That's Tip #1: Find out what you like to write and keep at it.

As a journalist, I'm used to writing every day. It's a habit. Don't wait for a muse. Just put butt to chair, fingers to keys, and start typing. Something will happen, words will appear. It can be magical. Enjoy it.


  1. Chris, I always say to writers to not stress out on the editing of their words, just to allow them to get on paper and once THE END is placed then to begin the editing stage.

  2. Excellent advice, Lea! I admit I'm guilty of constantly going over things, which often keeps me from moving on!

  3. That is good advice; however, for some of us, it's almost impossible not to do some editing as we write the first draft. If the thought of writing until you hit "The End" without making a single edit makes you slightly queasy, don't fight it. Fix the spelling errors and the obvious grammar glitches, but don't get bogged down for an hour on crafting the perfect paragraph. During NaNoWriMo, I created a new rule for myself - for every word I edited OUT during an hour-long writing session, I had to add two (elsewhere) before I could get up and do something else.

    And remember, editing is where the story really comes together as a cohesive whole - and you really can't edit if you've written nothing to edit.

  4. I'm a bit like you, Chris. I read what I wrote and do edits. Then the next day, I read what I wrote the day before and that gives me a boost to start new stuff. At some point, though, you leave what you did before and keep moving forward.

    This is helpful because when you do go way back to read previous stuff, it feels new and you can get a different perspective on it.

  5. I agree, it's good to have "something" to go back to, to spur you on. I'm kind of stuck now, well moving at a snail's pace on this book, so hoping you all inspire me to move forward a bit quicker.ha!

  6. If you don't have a problem with writer's block, I don't think it's bad to do a little bit of editing if it doesn't pull you out of your flow. In fact, if your bad spelling does pull you out, you must edit! Common sense. Not every technique works the same way for every writer.

    Another Penny Dreadful

  7. Sorry, Chris, but I'm not one of those "write every day whether you want to or not" writers. I just get frustrated and resentful. And, the writing is #@%$.

    But, when the muse hits, I write for hours, days, weeks. I'm in one of those writing modes now, and it's fun! I'm enjoying writing book 4 in my series. Life is good!

    I'll look forward to more tips!

  8. Hi Mary, there's always an exception to every rule. You're lucky that when you write, it sounds like it speeds along, which is great! No matter what, writing should never be forced. Better to write and enjoy it, then write and hate it. ha!

  9. Hi Chris. Nice blog post. Reading what works for other writers is always a treat. Once I'm done with a story, I enjoy going over it and fixing it up. That doesn't mean I don't edit as I go, however. Belonging to a critique group means getting a piece ready for other eyes, then adding what feedback I find useful into that part after the meeting. To me it's great having solid chapters from which to continue the story rather than having to make major edits later.

  10. I write a lot of poetry and often forcing it is counterproductive -- however, even when I'm not "struck by the muse" I try to do some work -- mostly revising and submitting. Plus there's always, for me, catching up on all the poetry reading I need to do. I grew up reading tons of poetry but there's still so *much* I haven't read ... ack! So many books, so little time.

    Do any of y'all go for writing prompts? I find some of them really do shake things loose for me...

  11. ... so now can I vent a bit on how much I dislike thos !!! letters that at least half the time I don't get right ...

  12. Hi Maggie, I'm with you! Just trying to get my own posts done, I probably do those darn *&&^ captcha letters 4 times! They could at least make them more legible! But thanks for posting!

  13. Great advice! Write your story all the way through and then go back and edit. (Sounds like good advice. Maybe I'm talking to myself, too. Probably: ))

    June Shaw

  14. Hi Chris,
    I admire your grit. I blog every 2-3 days. I have several projects I juggle at once. I'm working on my memoir (forcing myself to stay focused on it). I try to write a 1,000 or more words on it each day. I allow myself to edit yesterdays work and no more.
    When I get stuck or bored I switch to my short stories, website or something else.
    Jessica Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer


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