Top 8 tips for writers – Kristy Woodson Harvey

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By Kristy Woodson Harvey

Let’s face it: Writing can be a hard business. Most of us write because we love it, because we don’t know how not to write, because we feel like the best versions of ourselves when we are putting pen to paper. (Or fingers to keyboard!) For me — and I’m sure for many of you —writing is a passion and a dream come true. I feel like I’ve learned so much over the course of four novels in three years, and I am so happy to be with you, the We Heart Writing readers, today to share some of my favorite writing tips based on the questions I am asked most.♥

  1. Writing has to be a priority in your schedule or it will never happen! Put it on the top of the to-do list and make it non-negotiable. If you don’t treat your writing like a “real” job, no one else will either!
  2. There’s no “right” way to write. I know plenty of novelists who outline every detail perfectly and others who just jump right in. I know a lot of writers who write in chronological order. I’m pretty sure I’m incapable of that. But that’s okay. The rules don’t matter. Whatever gets your book finished is the “right” way for you!
  3. One way I stave off writer’s block is that, when I finish writing for the day, and I’m in that writing zone, I make myself brief notes on what I’ll write the next day. That way, I don’t have to go back and read page after page or even think about where I was and where I am going. I can just dive right in!
  4. Experiment with different voices. I wrote my first two manuscripts in third person because I read that that’s what first-time novelists should do. But it wasn’t until I began writing in first person that I felt like the writing really “clicked” for me. My debut novel was actually written in second person, which I’m pretty sure everyone in the world would say is a bad idea. But here’s what I’ve learned: It’s only a bad idea if it doesn’t work.
  5. Experiment with different types of writing. I thought I wanted to be journalist — and, don’t get me wrong, I love writing articles! Deciding to write a novel was a pretty out-of-the-blue idea for me, but ended up being a real passion. I believe that freelance writing and even blogging has helped my fiction and vice versa. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a shot!
  6. FINISH THE BOOK. I have so many writers email me and say, “How did you finish your book?” Um… How does one answer that?? Or “I have this great story, but I just can’t end it.” You have to finish the book. You just have to. I’ve had writers come to me with huge lists of agents and publishing plans, which is amazing and so fabulously prepared — but they haven’t written the book! Bribe yourself. Set a timer. Write something horrible and promise that you’ll clean it up later. Meditate, tap, do yoga, go to therapy to face why it is that you can’t end this story… I don’t care what you do, but do something. Because you can’t publish a book that ends in the middle!
  7. Don’t be afraid to let it go. I wrote three entire manuscripts before I began submitting to agents. Putting those stacks of printer paper aside was really hard because they represented hours of my life that I had dedicated to something that I loved. But publishing is a hard game and you need to put your best foot forward. I have multi-published author friends who have put entire books aside, started over and had to get contract extensions because they knew what they were working on wasn’t their best work. You owe it to yourself to get your best possible work out there. If that means it takes a little longer, then so be it!
  8. Start today. If you’ve been saying for ten years that you want to write a book, now is the time to close your internet browser, open your Word doc or Scrivener or whatever you use and write the first sentence. Or not the first sentence. Just a sentence. I wrote my debut novel in the middle of the night while I was nursing my baby because that was the only free time I had. Did it take longer than usual? Of course it did! But, eventually, by plugging away at it a little at a time, I did finish it. And now my fourth novel, The Secret to Southern Charm, is coming out in the world. But none of that would be happening now if I hadn’t found the courage to begin. So put aside all your fears and do what all good writers do to make themselves start: Tell yourself that no one will ever read it!

Thanks so much for having me, We Heart Writing. It was such a pleasure to be with all of you!

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the bestselling author of Dear Carolina, Lies and Other Acts of Love, Slightly South of Simple and The Secret to Southern Charm, which released April 3. Her writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Southern Living, Parade, Traditional Home and USA Today’s Happy Ever After. She writes about how a beautiful home can be the catalyst for creating a beautiful life on her award-winning blog, Design Chic.

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