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16 Practical Tips For Anyone Who Wants To Write A Book

If you want to write, you've got to read.

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Writing more is a popular, and very great, New Year's resolution, so we decided to ask BuzzFeed staff to share their best advice for aspiring writers, and check out what Quora users had to say too.

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1. Keep a journal by your bed and record your dreams as soon as you wake up.

http://@little.willowisp / Via instagram.com

"I know it sounds weird, but if you wake up in the middle of the night and remember a dream, write it down ASAP — just a few key words, nothing too crazy. Keeping track of your dreams can help inspire new ideas and things to write about." —Hannah Loewentheil

2. If you want to write fiction, read a lot of fiction.

@atouchofstarlightblog / Via instagram.com

"There's nothing that inspires me to write more than reading a really, really well-written book. The most recent book this happened with was The Goldfinch. The prose was so engaging and unique that my brain was exploding with new ideas. I'd finish a chapter and scribble down a ton of thoughts, sentences, and concepts that I'd never thought of before, and I still refer back to my favorite parts when I'm feeling a little stumped." —Terri Pous

3. Dedicate your commute to thinking of new ideas and playing with sentences in your head.

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I don't know if there's some kind of scientific reason behind it, but some of my very best ideas have come to me on long train journeys. In the past I would let these daydreams pass by, along with the landscape outside the window, but now I record these thoughts in the Notes app on my phone — when caught in the right mood I've ended up typing out pages and pages.

4. Get yourself into the habit of writing something every day.

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"A thing that my creative writing professor would always drill into us is the need to write every day. You might write for hours on some days, or as little as five minutes on other days. That's fine. The most important thing is getting into the habit of writing everyday, until not doing so feels strange." —Walford Campbell

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6. Remember that your first draft is a draft, and shouldn't be perfect.

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I love this Medium article from Jamie Lauren Keiles on drafts and constantly refer back to it when I'm feeling overwhelmed by the thought of starting a new piece of writing. In it she writes, "the crappiest first draft is still better than the imaginary story you are withholding in your head," which makes me feel so seen I'm compelled to drop everything and write every time I read it.

7. When it comes time to start editing your drafts, try reading your writing out loud.

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"Reading your work out loud will help you catch so many mistakes. From awkward phrasing to missing words to typos and comma splices, and everything in between." —Delaney Strunk

8. If you're looking for a way to get your creative juice flowing again, considering reading and following the advice of The Artist's Way.

@landoflovings / Via instagram.com

"One of the greatest things I've ever done was complete Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. If you're not familiar, there are three main principals: 1. Write three full, loose-leaf pages every morning. This can be anything you want (e.g. stream of consciousness, stories, venting, or journaling.) 2. Go on an 'artist date' every week where you do something related to your art completely by yourself. 3. Read the weekly essay (there are 12 in total) and complete the tasks at the end.

I recommend this to every writer I meet who is struggling with any sort of creative block. Since completing it last year, I must have purchased at least a dozen copies for other people." —Christian Nilsson

Get it from Amazon for $11.55.

9. Or simply keep a journal that you write in every day.

@the_rewm / Via instagram.com

"Journaling has been my most helpful daily exercise in flexing and strengthening my writing muscles. Not only do I get to write about my favorite topic (me), but I also get to do my favorite thing in a safe space, where I'm less focused on writing perfect sentences and more concerned with simply putting words down. Over the years, I've found that simply creating loose and imperfect narratives of my days has helped remove the fear from the storytelling process. On an unrelated note, journaling is also therapeutic, relaxing, and a good way to keep track of life's moments over the years. Win-win-win-win!" —Michelle No

10. Find writing prompts online and try writing short stories around them.

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You can find writing prompts on Instagram and Reddit. Most of the prompts on these pages are geared towards speculative fiction writing, so would be a great resource for anyone interested in writing for that genre.

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11. If you're feeling stuck for inspiration, physically go outside and find it.

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If you don't know where to start writing, take a walk and see what/who you come across. If you're struggling to pull an imaginary location from your head, grab a notebook and head somewhere that might suit your scene, then record everything you can see, hear, and smell.

12. Listen to podcasts when you need help writing realistic dialogue.

@ab_thegeneral / Via instagram.com

When it comes to writing dialogue, a common piece of advice is to listen to and record your own IRL conversations, so you can later take note of the way real people structure sentences, pause, and ask questions. An alternative to this suggestion is to listen to podcasts whenever you need reminding of how people speak in the real world.

13. Read a book about the craft, like Stephen King's On Writing.

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When I first decided that writing a novel might be something I'm interested in attempting, I scheduled drinks with a friend who has had two novels published to get some advice. One of the first suggestions she had was to read On Writing, and after reading it, I would happily offer the same advice to every aspiring writer.

Get it from Amazon for $11.07.

14. If you're creating characters for your work, pretend to interview them before you start writing them in to the story.

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"Spend the most of your time focusing on your characters and character building. Not only should you interview your characters, but pay attention to aspects like the beliefs and occupations that your characters have. If your character is a cop, why did he become a cop? What made him chose this path? What’s your characters belief about money, religion, the opposite sex? Once you have this information you can use it against them in your plotting. If your characters are great they’ll last far beyond the moment when your reader has finished the piece or closed the book." —Barry Mcdonald

15. And don't limit yourself to just one writing medium.

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"Try writing, and reading, and talking to people about what it's like to write for games, graphic novels, short stories, microfiction, haiku, novellas, and screenplays. You never know if what you'll find fits your style and passions and experience. You'll gain invaluable experience and new perspectives either way." —Danny Wadeson

16. Don't get caught up in finding your ~literary voice~ and just try writing like you speak.

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"Taking on a writing project can feel extremely daunting, but I think a lot of that fear stems from the fact that people think they have to sound like A Writer. You don't need to be Maya Angelou or F. Scott Fitzgerald — we already have their writing. The best way to write something that's unique and genuine is when it comes from your own voice. Don't get caught up in fancy prose or profound musings if that's not you. You want people to come away from your piece feeling like they've just had a conversation with you. Your voice is meaningful just the way it is." —Tom Vellner

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