Top 5 pieces of advice for newbies, what would it be? [for video]

Let’s say a newbie writer read a story and was inspired to write. But they don’t know what to do or how to go on. Let’s say someone told you to write an article with the top 5 pieces of writing advice. What would be your TOP 5?

I’m going to check for overlap, so it’s fine if you happen to repeat what’s already been said. I’m going to make a faceless video on the pieces of advice. I won’t call out names, but I will introduce Wacky. Even if I don’t get so many, I’ll still mention some.

Btw, I have subscribers from a previous thing I was doing, but I’m sure they just forgot they were subscribed. So, don’t be afraid :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. Write a story that you want to read.
  2. First drafts aren’t meant to be perfect and pretty. Let them get flawed and ugly. Only focus on making them polished in the other drafts, as things make sense.
  3. Start small and work your way up to starting a novel.
  4. Read and practice your craft.

That is all.

  1. Take every piece of advice with a grain of salt and don’t always try to abide by the rules. Most advice you see on the internet isn’t bad per se, it just caters to a specific problems lots of new writers struggle with, e.g. “show don’t tell,” which is not necessarily something that’s wrong with you.

  2. Write your heart out. Unless you plan on making a living by writing uninspired works that will appeal to a niche or actually a large audience, you should feel something when you write. You’re an artist, and your pen/laptop/papyrus/whatever is your medium.

  3. Don’t sweat yourself too much, commit to your hobby without having it turn into a soul-sucking job.

  4. Mistakes happen, changes are made, first drafts aren’t always perfect and shouldn’t be - hence they’re called drafts. It’s not your finished product.

  5. You can’t please everyone. Just like in real life not everyone is going to be your friend, not everyone on the internet is going to like your craft, no matter how good or how groundbreaking it might be.

  1. Don’t fight against your style too hard, not on your first story. Better a bad finished story than a perfect start that goes nowhere because it’s against your nature.

  2. Small steps first.

  3. Compete, whether in entrereng contests or doing sprints: something bigger than your self-discipline until you can earn your own.

  4. Expect diappointment. Others will hate your work, YOU will hate your work. Its part of the process.

  5. A day not writing is recharging for more writing. Change your attitude, not always forcing your practice to change (although do work on that).

Oh, and a bonus:

Most everything advice-wise out there is for intermediate writers: those who have at least a “0 draft” or a dozen false starts. They are not geared towards figuring out if you have it in you to write. Beating yourself up on advice for someone who is ready for editing or has already figured out that they are rigid planners isn’t going to get you to finish anything.


This is from the postscript of Alive in the Writing by Kirin Nayaran. It was a lifesaver when I was writing my thesis last month.

  • Write an abstract of the project, trying to synthesize and summarize your aspirations.

  • Create an outline that gives intelligible shape to what you hope to write. (Think of it as a map or itinerary for a journey.) lf the overall form is not clear, start with the episode or idea that most energises you and trust that that the structure will emerge

  • If you’re having trouble settling down to compose, try talking to a friend about what you’re trying to write. Someone else’s curiosity and interest or just sympathy can remind you why the project is worthwhile. You might even ask if they would keep you company as you begin

  • Designate a stretch of time every day when you will outwardly and inwardly disconnect from external demands. This might be in your own home or elsewhere: an office, a café, a library, a bench in a garden. Unplug from the internet.

  • Pace yourself with regular breaks. But if you find yourself immersed and focused, continue writing. Concentration is precious.

  • Remember, frank criticism can be the highest form of respect. Put ting aside your own wounded sense of being misunderstood or undervalued, look again: is there anything at all helpful you can take away from that criticism, or the experience of being criticized?

  1. Write.

  2. Write.

  3. Write

  4. Write

  5. Did I mention…



My top five would probably be…

  1. Expand your idea.

Pretty self-explanatory, but this stage can include planning or heavy outlining. Basically, the newbie needs to know that once they get their idea, they need to expand on it and then figure out how they can go from point A to point B. I also like to tell people that they need

  1. Read and research.

This is usually for any part of the writing process, but basically, if they run into a hiccup along the road, they should probably reach out to other writers for help. This can be in the form of writing forums, blogs on Google, or using actual books similar to their genre and target audience to figure out what they may need help on.

  1. Focus on what you enjoy.

If you want to write a story about a fairy princess who becomes evil, but feel like people won’t read it, still write it. If you want to write a story about a dragon that becomes exiled because they were nice to humans, and feel like people won’t read it, still write it. Write what you want to read. You do have to be ready for rejection because not everyone will like your book. And that’s okay. But it’s also important to think about what you enjoy, not what others enjoy. Especially since there will be people who will enjoy the same things you do.

  1. Stop trying to make perfection happen.

The first book you write won’t be the greatest, let alone a first draft of any book you write. And that’s okay, because you can improve. You can become a better writer. But don’t dwell on this first draft, this first book and think it needs to look perfect. It won’t happen. Even published books need more improvements. On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t assume your first draft (or first book) is perfect either. Because I can assure you that it is not. :sweat_smile:

  1. Force yourself.

To finish a book, to create a healthy writing habit, to get anything done, you must force yourself to push through. It’s not easy, but if you want to get a book written, if you want to someday publish a book, if you want to do more than hopping from one idea to the other, if you want to actually do the work instead of playing with vision boards… then you have to force yourself. Otherwise it’ll either take you ages to get it done or it’ll never be done.


You will never stop learning new things

People connect to complex characters more than complex plots

Know thyself to know thy works

Very little separates humans from animals

Sometimes the only way to progress forward is to take a step back

  1. Don’t expect your first work to be your masterpiece. It WILL be shit.
  2. You will mostly likely never be 100% happy with your work. Figure out what you consider to be “good enough”
  4. Write your story as if you were the reader. Don’t worry about what other people think when you’re just starting. That comes later
  5. Never be afriad to ask for help
  • source: A creative writing major and her former professors :joy:

None of these quotes are mine, but I think they’re great advise.

  1. The first draft of everything is rubbish ~ Hemingway.
  2. A writer can work with anything except a blank page.
  3. If a character cannot convince the author, the character will never convince a reader ~ Carmel Bird.
  4. The characters have their own lives and their own logic, and you have to act (write) accordingly ~ Isacc Singer.
  5. Apply backside to chair and pen to paper ~ Hemingway.

Other options:

  1. All good writing must be read aloud.
  2. The more precise your writing, the more diverse your audience.
  3. Any author who hides the facts of life from their readers is an author not to be trusted ~ Hemingway.
  4. If you want to know your characters better, ask yourself; how would they behave in a quarrel? ~Barnaby Conrad
  5. Every word must fight for its right to stay on the page.
  6. All words lose their edge from careless use ~ Hemingway.
  7. Keep it simple. Be clear. Think of your reader, not yourself ~ Roger Angell.
  8. Words should express an intended meaning, and not draw attention to themselves.
  1. Write what you’re passionate about (VS. What’s popular unless it dovetails with your passion)
  2. Pour your brains onto the page (Whether traditional or digital) and don’t think too hard on the mechanics.
  3. Allow your writing to sit for a while after you “finish”. This will give you cleaner perspective when you pick it up again to find the flaws.
  4. Don’t get wrapped up in the “process” (You must do x,y,z). If you can write on one story while revising another and prep a third for publishing, that’s awesome (This helps me prevent burnout)
  5. Try not to lament stories that hit the wall. It happens, to everyone. Some ideas sound better in our heads then they do in a manuscript. Been there done that and surrounded by the detritus of unfinished works.

I would recommend to go with one that you Don’t force yourself to write… the results are terrible and can induce anxiety, frustration, and disappointment about a writer’s “quality”. It’s a good way to quit writing for good.

  1. Practice writing. Like, in the lang-and-lit class way. Get a sense for things like grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, paragraph flow etc. because editing becomes so much easier when you don’t need to worry about making every sentence comprehensible, and you can really just zero in on the story without having to stress over the quality of the writing itself. The story is what really matters, but strong writing fundamentals make it so much easier to get to that story.

  2. Figure out your writing flow. For some people, “write every day” works. For others, it may be an on-and-off ebbing and flowing pace. If you understand how to keep yourself focused on a project, you can hold yourself to that. I, personally, can’t always write every day, and if I try to force myself I’ll inevitably hate whatever I’m working on. So I write when I feel like it and I don’t feel stressed or guilty during my less productive days because I know I’m doing all I can. But I’ve met people who, if they don’t force themselves to double down, will just never write. So figure out what works for you and stick to it.

  3. Seek out accountability. Trying to pressure yourself may not always work, but external motivators can be your best friend. Whether this is a friend, sprinting, a community, or a contest, having deadlines, time constraints, or even someone else’s expectations to meet can kick your brain into high gear and really start you writing.

  4. Read other people’s works critically. Read through published stories. Notice the grammar, the story structure, the characters, the relationships, the pacing, everything you can. Figure out what you do like, what you don’t like, what you want to do, what you want to avoid—take everything you’ve noticed, the good and the bad, and think about how it may fit into your stories.

  5. Don’t know where to start? Literally just write things down. It’s been said a bunch already, but you can fix crappy writing. You can’t fix a blank page. Just put words down, and the rest will come later on.