5 life hacks for aspiring writers

Want to start on that first book? Aspire to get published? Here are a few tips for aspiring writers that I shared with Writersmelon.

Why do you want to write?

If you want to be a writer, the first thing that you need, which is I think a very individualistic thing, is the desire to write, the passion to create something new, to express a story, a character in a new way. I write because  characters crop up in my head and bang inside, demanding to be let out. I write because it’s addictive and I have no other choice. It’s the highest I’ve ever felt, and also the lowest. It’s hard, but I’m not going to leave it anytime soon.

Once you’ve keyed on this desire, it will drive you through the long, long process of gathering the skills and actually writing the whole thing. Ideas are easy to come by, getting the skill of writing is also not too difficult, but it’s this desire that makes all the difference. This motivation that comes from inside you, will discipline you, make sure you don’t give up halfway and will not let you rest till you complete the creative work. In that sense, it’s an intrinsic value.

A stranger browsing the book. Isn't that nice!
A stranger browsing the book. Isn’t that nice!

Finish that first draft

Don’t let your rational mind take over till you complete the first draft. Write with your instinct, write whatever you see the characters doing, just write without thinking too much. The only thing you can do is be true to your characters. Don’t let your opinion on life and your language leak through into the story, for the readers will know and they’ll not like it. After you have completed the first draft, edit, polish and edit again. Once you think it’s ready to be sent to a publisher, wait for a week. Edit again and send to the publisher. Don’t think of it as a hobby. Think of writing as your work. You have to do it everyday, even if you don’t feel like getting up from the bed. Write everyday, even if you are sad or not in the mood or don’t have time for it or can’t think of a single line to write. Write a portion everyday.

Don’t miss out on reading

Though I started to write because I loved authors like Isaac Asimov, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Ursula Le Guin in the speculative fiction genre, I’ve discovered that reading all kinds of genres adds in much more depth into your writing. So now I read speculative fiction (because I still love that as a reader) but I also read history, non-fiction, biographies, high literary fiction, short stories, graphic novels, basically anything I can get my hands on and that looks macabre or fascinating enough. So my second advice to all you writers is read. Keep reading till words sink into you, till you think in that language, breathe it, drown in it and your story will emerge easier.

Don’t believe in a writer’s block

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe in lazy writers and in procrastination. Creatively, all of us face blank pages, days when there’s nothing, no words come out, no sentences get written. You’ve to crawl through these days to reach the days when your story sings and your fingers can’t type fast enough. You’ve to reach there and the only way to go about it is to spend a day or two staring at the empty screen but not leaving the room. Not giving up. Think of the writer’s block as a puddle on the road, it’ll make a lot of splash when you go over it, but it isn’t the road.

Self publish or traditional?

Today writers are lucky as we have so many avenues to choose from – you can go through traditional publishing, which makes sure the book’s in the stores and you get a bit of media coverage, or you can go through the self-publishing route, where you’re running a business including writing, editing, book cover, sales and marketing. Either one takes hard work. For myself, I’m trying the hybrid author route. With some books I opt for traditional publishing and big publishers; while with others I simply put them up online and work out how sales will work. It’s experimentative, exciting and exhausting but keeps me on the toes.

First published on Writersmelon.