Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tips for Beginning Writers ~Suzy Leopold

Please note
While the title indicates beginning writers, I consider these Tips for All Writers. Even if you feel you are a writer who has moved beyond the beginning stages, I encourage you to continue to read. 

Perhaps you are a published author. Please proceed. Hopefully, you will feel affirmed in what you know as a writer and/or be reminded of what works for you, while reading this blog post. 

For the beginning writer, I do hope you will discover some new ideas to further your interest in writing.

1. Say it out loud: "I am a writer."

When can you start calling yourself a writer?

          Right now.
Don't be shy. 
     Doing so makes it real.

A writer can be unpublished, prepublished or published.

Look in the mirror and say, "I am a writer."
Say it again until you believe it.

"When can you start calling 
yourself a writer?
~Chuck Sambuchino

2. Read, read, read.

  • Read in the genre that you write.
  • Read across genres, including books for children and adults.
  • Read newspapers and magazines.
  • Read poetry.
  • Read recently published books at the library and bookstore.
  • Linda Sue Park, a Newbery Medal winning author, encourages aspiring children's authors to read at least five hundred books in the genre and age group that you desire to write.
Reading numerous books helps define what a good story is to you and from there you will write the stories you like to read.

Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), creates a list of worthy and notable books. 

Click on the link ALSC Notable Children's Books for more information.

Every time you read a book that you like, study it further. Analyze it. Study the techniques the writer used. Ask questions:
  • What do you like about this story or article?
  • How did the author hook you as a reader?
  • Figure out what works with the beginning and the ending of the story.
  • Analyze the word count.
  • How did the author use the right word in the right place?
  • Think about character development---How are the characters authentic with their action and dialogue?

3. Write, write, write.

  • Practice, Write, Revise and Repeat.
  • Most writers feel that writing every day is best. However, you need to cultivate a process that works for you. Create a writing and revision process that helps you do your best work.
  • Set a timer. Begin writing for 10 to 30 minutes. Over time, you will build your writing stamina to write for longer periods of time.
  • Perseverance + Discipline + Time = A Story
  • Do write in your voice with your individual strengths and uniqueness. 
  • Get everything out of your head and onto paper or in a word document.

4. Keep a writing journal.

  • Write down favorite quotes and words of wisdom.
  • Doodle and draw characters, settings, and book cover ideas. You don't have to be artistic---stick figures work to give you a better layout that includes page turns.
  • Jot down both positive and negative thoughts, along with your ups and downs during your writing journey.
  • Brainstorm lists of words.
  • Keep your ideas and inspiration inside your journal.
  • Create a checklist of goals.
  • Write an outline for a book idea.
  • Record highlights of information you learned to a conference, workshop, and/or webinar.
Create a journal filled with information you can refer as a resource to refer to. In time, look back at your journal entries. I'm certain you will note how you have grown as a writer.

5. Reach out to writers.

  • If you aren't already a member, become a member of SCBWI.
  • Participate in writing challenges, Facebook groups and discussions, critique groups---in-person and online.
  • Discuss the process of writing with trusted friends. Together through encouragement, critique partners should give you courage to be daring, to make mistakes and learn and grow.
I picked these flowers for YOU from my garden.
Every one has a story to tell. Know why you want to share this story. Why does it matter? Why is it important for it to be told? 

Be brave. Believe.


  1. You are correct, Prairie Girl, this advice and info is good for all writers to remember. There are a few items on this grew twist that I need to dip into again. And thank you for the flowers.

    1. My pleasure to share reminders and flowers with you from the prairie, Kathy.

  2. great post, Suzy! I need to get back to my writing journal...

    1. This Sue thanks you for reading and commenting, Sue.

  3. Replies
    1. Hopefully, you found a reminder or more that affirms you as a writer/author, Darlene.


  4. Great tips, Suzy! I especially like #1. You need to believe you're a writer!

  5. Great blog! enjoy reading it! I also bookmark this site for visiting and updating regularly! thank for sharing with us!
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  6. Thanks for the encouragement, Suzy!

    1. My pleasure, Tina. Encouraging each other is a reminder to keep reading and writing.

  7. A wonderfully concise list and reminder for seasoned writers, too. Thanks, Suzy!!

    1. Your comment and gratitude are appreciated, Jarm. Thank YOU.

  8. Inspiring, Suzy. And my ideas would pop into thin air, if I didn't put them on a list.

    As for taking care of other writers & sharing, I learn so much on line, such as with Group Blog, but I need community - my in-person weekly writing meeting & my monthly get together.

  9. It is good for beginners.