There are three rules to writing a novel.
Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
W. Somerset Maugham
A cursory search for “writing tips” will stir up far more than three rules, each contradicting the last. Even so, such searches proved invaluable for filling up time when I should have been writing, but couldn’t quite figure out what to write next. (Whether I should call that writer’s block or just sheer lack of motivation, I can’t say). There came a point, though, when rules and tips became overwhelming.
I was relieved – and somewhat amused – to find among Jeff Gerke’s Fiction Writing Tips the following advice:
85. Be Teachable
86. Stop Being Teachable
I encourage you to read through Gerke’s tips, as they constitute by far and away the most clear and comprehensive list of tips I’ve seen yet. Honestly, it’s an awesome list, and if you’re serious about writing, you shouldn’t skip it. In time, I hope to add more tips, both from other websites I’ve enjoyed and from my own, admittedly limited, experience.
Be Teachable and Stop Being Teachable, though, are a good place to start. Be open to what others have to say, humbly accepting that you don’t know it all. But also, be confident enough in your story and in your voice to discern which rules and tips to follow and which to shrug off.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself completely incapacitated as a writer. You’ll never let your characters speak, having printed out 300 Ways to Say Said and then learned always to use “said.”
For the writers out there, while I’m thinking up tips, what are your favorite, most helpful writing tips?