To this day, one of the most eye-opening things someone ever said to me was this: believe in the power of your voice. I still remember the moment, where I was, and how I felt when my professor spoke that affirmation over me. It was life changing. For the first time, I realized that each of us has a gift and a power—writing was mine. And from that moment forward, I finally believed and took active steps towards my writer dreams.
If you’ve been blessed by writing abilities, encouraged by a loved one to pursue the art of the written word, or if you’re like I was, and simply realizing that writing is something you enjoy doing, then I want to affirm you. You’re headed in the right direction.
Truthfully, there is no ‘wrong’ way. Maybe you’ll become a writer, or maybe this will just be a passion. Regardless, you’ll never know unless you jump forward and pursue this craft. You’ll never know unless you bleed your heart onto the paper. You’ll never know unless you believe in the power of your voice.
As you pick up a pen or open your computer, here are some tips for new writers that have built and shaped my career. I hope they help you, encourage you, and inspire you.
1. Don’t let the empty page scare you.
One of the most daunting things about writing (especially for people just starting out!) is the empty page. I remember that feeling vividly. Staring at the computer screen I felt like the white document was screaming at me. For each of us, the experience is different, but the truth is the same: we have to simply start.
Sometimes we get paralyzed before and as we write. Whether because of ‘Writer’s block,’ our own mental state, or pressure for perfection, etc., we feel as if we don’t know what to say or how to say it.
Let me be the one to tell you that if you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. Even the most seasoned writers face those ‘blank page’ moments where words seem to fail them. Even published authors struggle to find the right words to articulate what they really mean.
Although the empty page is intimidating, you can’t let it hold you back. You have to understand that the words are there, you’re just not letting them flow from you or they haven’t found the courage to do so yet. The ideas will come, you just have to accept their messiness and get them on the page without trying to be perfect from the very start. Just write.
2. Drafting is your friend.
We all want to be perfect, but trust me when I say that nothing is perfect the first time around. Nothing. I know that might sound cruel, or you might feel as if it doesn’t apply to you, but every single person who writes must understand the power of drafting.
You’ll never create something that’s perfect the second it leaves your fingertips. You might have an excellent first draft, but it’s still a draft. There’s always something to change, to alter, to strengthen. Editing isn’t a bad thing; it’s a necessary thing. And the sooner you learn to accept that, the more confidence you’ll grow in your abilities.
3. Stop trying to be everything.
One of the biggest problems I see in young writers and clients I work with is a longing to ‘fit in’ with content. Though there’s something to be said for being a relatable writer, you don’t want to emulate other styles so much that you no longer have an identity.
You can adopt ideas and make them your own. You can craft certain aspects of your work to be reminiscent of people or pieces that you like. But you want to be you, and discovering your unique voice will be what draws people to your content in the first place.
4. Stop waiting for the ‘right’ moment.
For the longest time I was trying to be ‘ready’ to write. I was trying to have an established social media following, a ‘legit’ blog, a ‘strong’ voice. I was so worried about having everything together that it was holding me back from actually writing.
Don’t let that be you. If writing has been your dream, pour your heart and soul into the craft, into the study, into the discipline of posting on a page or site. Find reasons to write, not excuses. Fit the practice into your daily routine. You’ll be surprised how easy it comes when you finally decide to take that first forward move.
5. Learn to accept criticism.
Guess what? You’re going to get rejected. You’re going to submit something and never hear back from editors, see negative emails hit your inbox, or find that something you wanted went to someone else. You can’t let failure and criticism discourage you.
Not everyone is going to like or resonate with your work. Not everyone is going to believe in you, or support the publication of your article. This doesn’t mean that those people are all wrong, but it does mean that you have to work really hard at improving your skills, creating your own confidence, and fighting to get your voice heard.
6. Learn and absorb as much as you can.
Writers are lifelong learners. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to attend a university to be a successful writer, but you will definitely have to push yourself if you don’t have that background. If you want to be successful, you have to put in the work. Study the craft. Practice it daily. Talk to people who have been in the industry longer than you. Seek advice from experts. Take classes. Explore coaching opportunities to dive deeper into your passions. Listen.
And above all, be like a sponge absorbing everything—this is how you grow.
Featured Image Credit: Kyle Gregory Devaras[