And one more time, a huge thank you to Christopher Tallon at Creative Ops for publishing my little blog post about writing tips. I hope I got it right, but of course everyone’s got their own process so there’s a lot of wiggle room on lists like this. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments. Here’s the original link:
Hi. I’m Jen Soucy. You may know me from such books as Demon In Me, The Night She Fell, Clementine’s Awakening, and most recently, The Mother We Share… Sorry, I had a vision of Troy McClure and had to roll with it, which probably dates me but that’s ok.
I’m a writer, and I’ve been invited to share a few of the tips that have kept me steady on this enjoyable but often challenging road.
Let me preface this by saying one thing: I’ve only been seriously writing for less than 3 years. I am not an expert. These tips aren’t worthy of becoming the missing appendix in On Writing or your favorite writing book written by an author you admire above all others. All I can offer are the top tips that I rely upon. If they help you, that’s awesome. If I missed something, please feel free to let me know. I’m always open to learning, just as we all should be because it really never ends.
So, in no specific order, here’s my list:
Jennifer Soucy Writing Tip #1 – Write
It’s both the easiest and the hardest thing to do. Make a schedule, a flexible word count, brew coffee or tea, pray to your deity of choice… Do whatever you need to do, but put your butt in the chair and write! It’s ok if it’s not every day or if you miss your word count goal. Some days are harder than others, but if you don’t make the attempt then the rest of the tips won’t matter.
Jennifer Soucy Writing Tip #2 – Don’t Stop!
Yes, I feel this is important enough to warrant an exclamation. No matter what you’re writing, don’t stop and fiddle overlong with what’s already done—whether it’s the multiple pages, paragraphs, or chapters that came before. Keep moving forward unless during the process you have a super good reason to go back and tweak something (plot hole, name change, etc.). I promise, during the revising/editing process you will reread and rewrite more than you ever imagined possible (and then maybe a couple more times just to be safe). Editing is magic, but it can’t happen unless there’s something on the page to edit.
Jennifer Soucy Writing Tip #3 – Avoid Time Sinks
Again, easier said than done especially when many of us are still social distancing so our fun is most often happening on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more. One quick check on any of those sites can lead to an hour or more of scrolling and chatting. Networking and socializing are important parts of being a writer and a human, but try to limit your time every day. Most important, when you are in that slender time frame you set aside for writing, do yourself a favor and keep the temptation of phones and more far away.
Jennifer Soucy Writing Tip #4 – Don’t Get Lost In The Details
Research, worldbuilding, and outlining are all important parts of writing a story. Absolutely make sure you include these in your process. Yes, at times you may reach a point where you have to pause to look up something. That’s ok, just try to hurry before you sink into a bottomless hole of Googling or more which will ultimately distract from your primary objective—to write!
Jennifer Soucy Writing Tip #5 – Take Breaks
But… I know, I said to write and don’t stop. Sometimes you have to stop, though. If you do too much, too fast, for too long, you will burn out. You just wrote 5k words and your eyes are bleeding? Get up, make some tea, and listen to your favorite podcast. You made it to the 75% mark, and your head is clogged with about five potential ways your MC can escape, but you don’t know which way to go? Take a walk through the neighborhood, clear your head. Drink water and eat your vegetables. Taking care of yourself is always the most important. Don’t ever skimp on that!
Jennifer Soucy Writing Tip #6 – Read
That should be a no-brainer, right? We’re writers, of course we read. Most of us read for pleasure, for knowledge, to stay current within our chosen genres and support our fellows, or even for just a moment’s escape. Not everyone can read as much while writing, if at all. That’s ok. Do what feels best for your process. But for many of us, a love of reading is what led to writing. It’s easy to get lost in your own stories and in the lengthy creation process. Writing will eat a lot of your time, so try not to let it keep you from everything else that makes you happy. With practice, you’ll find the right balance.
Jennifer Soucy Writing Tip #7 – Have Fun!
Remember those times you wrote something special? Something that made you laugh out loud, cry, or even stoked a spark of pride? Writing can feel like work at times. For most of us, it is work—another job on top of many we struggle through every day. But don’t let writing become drudgery. You love writing and creating, otherwise you wouldn’t call yourself a writer. If the process begins to feel like all work and no play, then take a break. It’s ok, we’ve all done it. Writing requires discipline and dedication, like any craft, but it should always retain an element of fun. If it didn’t, we all would find something less demanding and move on (decoupage, anyone?).
Write, create, laugh, cry, shout to the heavens when you finish an awesome scene and especially when you finally finish that glorious first draft. You’ve brought something new into the world. Congratulate yourself, and savor that feeling. It’s what keeps us all coming back for more.