10 Tips for Budding Writers From Award-Winning Author Kiran Manral
Writer’s block is a myth, curiosity never killed the cat, and having your tools handy goes a long way
A lot of folks write in saying they want to be writers. And what should they do to become writers. There are no easy replies to this one. There is no way to be a writer except by writing. And reading. And then writing some more. But yet, for those who must ask, here’s a brief primer on how to be a writer or how to write.
1. Be curious. Be annoyingly curious. Ask infinite questions. Pick up conversations. Observe.
2. Read read read as much you can. Read across genres, read for pleasure, read to learn. Don’t read the books that everyone else is reading. Go into bookstores, still on those little stools they have and read through books that don’t get talked about, the obscure books, the one that hook you in either by the cover or the back blurb. Read those.
3. Write. To repeat. The only way to be a writer is by writing. Write every single day. Set yourself a target. A word count. Make sure you stick to it. It is easier to have written than it is to write. You can always revise and edit once you have written.
4. Don’t give in to that scam called a writer’s block. It doesn’t exist. It is a myth created out of this grand fantasy that writing is blessed divine work. No it isn’t. Writing is hard work. Real, gritty and raw. You struggle with sweat, tears and blood as you write. You have to put in the labor, and that means writing when the words aren’t flowing.
5. Have your tools of trade handy. Words. Grammar. Syntax. All you write will be nothing if you don’t have these down pat. So read and read to get your grasp of the language strong, and there’s no harm in having a Wren and Martin handy to check if you’ve got your adjectives in the right order.
6. Make your characters real people. See them. Hear them speak. Know them as people. How they walk, how they stand, what they would eat, how they would dress. Only when you can visualize a character in your head completely, should you dare sit and write it down.
7. Read what writers have to say about writing. Stephen King’s On Writing. Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (which is as much a writing book, as it is a running book), Anne Lammott’s Bird by Bird, The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, Steering the Craft by Ursula K Le Guin.
8. I aver that 99 percent of the writing is in the rewriting, so your first draft is just the point at which you start. You will hone, rework, rewrite that first draft one million times until you cannot do a thing to it, and you must send it out to a professional editor to spot where you need to be reined in.
9. Clear a space in your head for your writing. You cannot think clearly, much less write clearly, when you are stressed out, anxious, worried, tense and this will reflect in your writing. Do something to relax yourself when you write, a five minute meditation, a limbering up writing exercise to make you feel happier and laugh out loud, see visuals of your favorite place or your favorite people. Get to writing feeling happy.
10. And finally, it is not how many words you’ve written per day, it is the quality of those words and how they’ve been strung together. Remember, a word and a word and a word and a word is a sentence and a sentence is a paragraph and a paragraph is a page and a page is a chapter and a chapter is a book. So get those words down, but make them worth reading.
Kiran Manral has authored eight books across genres till date. Her latest novel ‘Missing, Presumed Dead’ can be ordered on Amazon here