Bits of Advice

This is a guest post by Mandi Ellsworth.Mandi is a wife, mother, reader, jogger, and writer, among other things. Her debut novel, “Uneasy Fortunes” comes out June 12th. You can connect with her at her blog.

We are all a conglomeration of what we hear or see or feel and my own thoughts on the writing process are that: bits and pieces of advice I’ve gathered from other sources and put to use.

Shannon Hale, the end all be all when it comes to writing, says she has never gotten writer’s block. When she’s not feeling it, she just keeps writing anyway. It may be rubbish but she’ll just keep writing rubbish until it starts to flow a little better. There will be lots of revisions to change the rubbish into something great, so she doesn’t sweat about making it perfect at the beginning. It helps to keep that in mind. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be bettered later.

An author should write what they like to read. If you like to read cheesy romances (guilty), or Young Adult fantasy (guilty again), then that’s what you should write. After all, if you don’t like it, chances are, the reader won’t either.

If you don’t like to read, then maybe you should re-think your choice of hobby.

Reading is a big deal for a writer. It’s hard not to take what you read and use it in your own style. For example, after reading a Georgette Heyer novel, I write like a 19th century Brit for days. Getting used to the way published authors use punctuation, sentence structure, and word choice is the best way to integrate those things into your own story-making.

We’ve all heard the old adage to write what you know. While writing “Uneasy Fortunes” I had a friend that showed me much about what it’s like to live with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. She visited me daily and talked about her life and it was her story, as much as my grandmother’s, that urged me to tell the story the way I did.

I can’t remember where I heard this last bit of advice, a blog I’m sure, but it has made a world of difference in my writing. Take a few weeks and change up the time you write and the location. Maybe wake up early for a week and see how that effects the way you write. Then try it right after breakfast, or during a lunch break, or while wearing earbuds with music blasting and the kids are running amok. Then change the location of where you write. Through this process, I learned I write best when I: wake before everyone else in the house, sit in a hard chair, do not allow myself to do anything until I have finished my allotted writing time (not even the dirty dishes that tease me from the corner of my eye, or the email that would be so easy to click to). You might be surprised by what works for you.

Mostly, and most importantly, learn to love the process. It will reward you with unexpected joys.