Advice for young writers

Five important advice for young writers

Image by Raphaël Jeanneret from Pixabay

  • 1. White Paper Panic

  • When I was younger I noticed that people around me feared different things, amongst which “death”, “blindness”, or more broadly speaking - “illness”, were most common. I know that nowadays I would get looks for saying this, but at that time I would always think that their fears are boring. I feared something else, something so terrifying and yet so intimate that I would not share it even with my dearest friends; I feared that I will stop writing, I was afraid of the “whiteness of paper” as one of my poetic friends once said. It is not a writer’s block; it is the disappearance of a writer from you. So, naturally, I developed my term “White Paper Panic” and just for the fun I immediately thought of how it would sound in German - __“Weisspapierpanik”__. ## A drought It happened right after I published my first poetry book, for which I was awarded a national prize for the best poetry book for young poets. My feet were high above the ground, and my career could start. A career of a published author. But, I also wanted to write something new. With this new emotion, with this new experience - my sentences, I thought, must be more meaningful. I was wrong. Painful and long story short, I watched into the white paper in front of me and I was wordless, rhyme-less, in essence - I was less of me. That was the introduction to, up to that moment, longest writing drought I ever had - around three weeks. ### Learning something new However, I did learn three really important things in those three weeks. - **You are more than your art** You might be one of those people who answer to the question “Who are you” with _“Oh, I am a writer”_ instead of with your name, and it is fine to identify yourself with it - but do not limit yourself to being a writer (or an artist in general). You have many other qualities, hobbies or simply things that you want to learn. So stop thinking about writing and feel free to do something else. - **You should focus on the quality, not the quantity**. This stands as a general rule in life, whether you are talking about time spent with your loved ones, food, clothes, or art pieces. And let’s face it - you probably have at least dozens of your poems or stories that you wish you have never had written in the first place, and you want to burn them or rip them out of your notebook, but they are still there. And they are doing a beautiful job - remind you that you should not really write anything that comes to your mind. It is far better to write a couple of good stories in your life than to publish 20 horrible, miserable novels. One word: __Quality!__ - **You should let your ideas develop outside of a paper, even when you can write**. You probably noticed it earlier this week, when you were walking back home from classes. I am talking about those small details that for some reason got engraved in your memory, like a little boy on the other side of the street who was petting a stray dog. If a picture provokes you for some reason for a long time and you cannot describe it, it is a potential poem or a story. But do not write it down immediately. Think about it, let it develop in your head. If it disappears, it probably was not worthy in the first place. From time to time, you will find yourself staring at the paper in front of you, with a paper staring back at you. And you cannot compete with paper in the game who can stare longer, the paper will win every time. Therefore, I propose that we should accept the new constellation of things, and understand the lack of inspiration as the call for a holiday! We should do something else, and not force ourselves to write. It is true, however, that some famous writers as, for example, Thomas Mann, had a really strict schedule of writing and that thanks to that practice they were able to write all the masterpieces that they are famous for. So, in the end, it is up to you. I chose not to write when I do not have an urge to write, and it worked perfectly: there are significantly fewer poems and stories that I want to burn, and I am increasingly satisfied with my pieces. Maybe it can work for you too. .
  • 2. Controlling your mistakes; Being both God's and Devil's Advocate at the same time

  • ## A formal pajama *Did you ever write a novel? Do you plan to?* Here I am giving a bit of advice to intermediate writers who already have some experience in writing, and to those who are familiar with some writing techniques. More precisely, I want to talk about the importance of the skill that we could name “Controlling how much stays out of your control”, or “Defending your mistakes”. I will start by proposing a case from my novel. One famous person is organizing the audition for his doppelganger and in the meantime, he has changed his clothes several times (because I wanted to depict the atmosphere partially through my character's clothing). However, after finalizing the chapter and re-reading it, I realized that my character did not change his clothes when I intended so he was wearing a pajama when I planned to make his appearance formal. I really laughed at my mistake. It was, as I said it that time, the free will of my character, an event in my story that happened and stayed out of my control. But, as I have learned during all those years, each mistake should be reconsidered and discussed. Instead of changing a part of the chapter immediately, I tried to see how it influences the inherent logic of my idea. *Does it, maybe, serve some purpose that I did not think about in the beginning phase of planning the timeline of my story?* ### Can a mistake serve a (good) purpose? The first assigned purpose of the clothing, as I have mentioned above, was the depiction of the atmosphere. So, with having that in mind, I had to imagine everything that I wrote up to that moment, but this time with my character in pajama. It certainly changed the atmosphere, and it was not the one that I previously planned. I had mixed feelings with the new atmosphere, and I was really close to rewriting designated parts of my chapter. But then, suddenly, after asking myself 1001st **“but what if?”**, I realized that *if I make my mistake obvious with other characters being obliged to react to it – I will reach into new depths of my main character’s development as well as the development between different characters (in the sense of the power-relations).* So I did exactly that. In one of the introspections, my character noticed that he forgot to change and analyzed why no-one said anything to him. In the essence, I used a little more words than I planned to “defend my mistake” because I calculated the trade-off: for the price of changed general atmosphere, I got the nice character development and the development of the power relations between my characters. ### The old practice Later I realized that I actually only practiced something that is usually called “debating against the devil’s advocate”. This phrase (being the devil’s advocate) is often misused, but it comes from the early Christianity, where people were hired to challenge the God’s advocate by imposing a skeptical viewpoint on the issues of canonization and miracles. I did the same, but I stayed out of the religious conversation. My role as **God’s advocate** was to let my character stay in his pajama, meanwhile, my **Devil’s advocate** role was to challenge that decision. In the end (just as it would happen in Churches), *advocatus Dei*, the God’s advocate, won. It is important to mention that this will most likely happen in any type of art. A really good friend of mine, who is a prominent young painter, gifted me with a beautiful picture as one of the goodbye gifts. Several days later I asked her about a figure in the distance, under an umbrella – what does it represent? To my confusion, she replied that there are no people under the umbrella in the distance. When I pointed out on it, she immediately saw it and the whole picture got a new meaning. The key to the new value is noticing, recognizing and valuing your mistakes. If you are able to defend it, it can be the best thing that happened to your writing. To conclude, I would say something controversial. Things that happen in our stories that we did not plan to happen are actually the art happening. Art happens in mistakes. But its maturing is highly dependable on our ability to defend it.
  • 3. Whose audience? Whose time? Whose work?

  • ### Figuring out the way out of a maze While the previous two chapters were strictly related to artistic writing such as poetry or novels, in this chapter I am talking to *all kinds of writers*. This means that you can find the following tips helpful, whether you are blogging about cryptocurrencies or trying to be *the new Hermann Hesse*. I wrote my first novel in exactly three weeks. Around 55 thousand words, averaging around 2500 words a day. And just bear in mind that I was a full-time student, not a full-time writer. I would write instead of having a meal, write instead of drinking water, I would only perform breathing out of all physiological functions, and most likely because it is something we do mechanically. So, on a scale from 1 to 10, this would get clear 1 as the most unhealthy habit. However, a lot of long years later, when I already have a lot of experience behind me, 2500 words a day is an indicator of a **bad day** of course, if I have an inspiration and will to write. But there is a game-changer. ### Having a client Once you grow up and decide to make your own living, the first thing that will amaze you is how many people actually need writing services. And it will not take a lot of time for you to get your first client, but it might take you some time to realize that **writing for a client is completely different than writing for yourself**. And the sooner you realize that it is actually not another of your stories, but rather your client's story, the better. Besides being paid to write, you are also being paid to deliver on time. ### Writer's dilemma Having all this said, it is safe to say that once you enter the world of copywriters your most valuable skill will become your time management, your ability to deliver the product on time. Most of the clients would more gladly tolerate one bad article than one missed deadline. So after all, it is quantity over quality? Well, this is where we reach one of many writer's dilemmas, and this is something that both you and your client have to understand. You are not writing to your client. You are writing on their behalf. but you are writing **to their audience**. Meaning that the only real answer for *quality vs. quantity* dilemma can be given by their audience. In essence, you should realize that you are hired by your client's audience and that you are being paid by your client. Nevertheless, when it comes to business, you should respect the deadlines as the continuous inability to deliver pieces on time will result in everyone's discomfort. ###Going back to the writing for yourself If you are your only audience then you do not have to worry about anything. However, if you have an audience that is really interested in your work, you have to pay attention to their demands (not all of course). And it is really important to notice **that the writing nowadays is audience-centric**, regardless of who you are writing for, a client or yourself. If your audience expects you to publish a book every other year, then you should really care about timing. But if your audience expects you to publish a masterpiece then it is completely fine to spend years researching and writing. The good thing is that of course you still have a say in everything because of the fact that the expectations are nothing more **but the reactions to the previous work**. All in all, it all comes down to this. If you are a professional writer, you should not really think about the quality vs. quantity issue; instead of "versus" you should imagine there is "and", and you should always strive to deliver high-quality content in a timely fashion, whether you are writing to your own audience or to your client's audience. If you are writing for yourself, you do have the luxury of forgetting everything, time, space and meals. In the following two chapters I will briefly discuss two other topics. Firstly, how to recognize your target audience, and secondly, how to develop a relationship with your audience.
  • 4. Understanding and knowing your target audience

  • We all know about the power of identifying targeted audience in Facebook or Twitter ads, this is all-important. When it has to do with writing content, it is never absolute. And just like all experienced freelancers understand the importance of proper recognition of your target audience, that is one of the things that should always be on the top of your mind. You would agree with me that the writing industry is a big platform and that one would need the current state of understanding to follow through and participate efficiently. Anyone can write content, but only a few would write engaging ones. This is probably depicted best in the infamous quote by **Jack Kerouac**: "*It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it*" This has turned out to be very true with hard evidence. Have you ever come across a post that is just too interesting to read? These types of posts are written and specially targeted at a preferred audience. ### Why is the Audience important? The audience determines if the written content would survive the following day if they read it on the first day. Knowing your audience before writing helps you get the job approved by the individual who hired you. Knowing and understanding your target audience is very important, as it would structure and make your article or book easy to read. You must have the needs of your readers in mind, e.g what do they want to hear? Or what support do they need? Why are they reading your content in the first place? It is very important to know your targeted audience before writing. Knowing your audience will also help you better understand the feedback, and feedback is something that you have to value more than anything. Of course, only if it is constructive. But how to know my target audience? Well, by narrowing it down, until you reach the broadness you desire. For example, this post is written for writers. However, not all writers - only those who can read English. And I say read, not write on purpose. A piece of advice is a piece of advice, if you understand it another language you can use it in your own language. But usually, you will write a country-specific content. - **Knowing or discovering the targeted country** I can tell you one of my experiences. In most cases, employers who list out a project requires the content to focus on a specific country and continent. I had an Indian client whom I met on one of the freelancing platforms, he listed out the projects without telling me the targeted audience. How did I know where the audience resides? **From the topic given**. I could spot that the article must be written and geared toward Indian society. This made my writing much easier, I could make good use of the Indian keyword! I wrote a bunch of articles for him, and all of them were geared towards India. Of course, talking to your client is preferable, but some of them are "**men of few words**", and you might be left on your own. - **Interacting with the targeted audience using what they like** When writing content you should be aware of researching and understanding the concept of using sentences that involves popular words as it relates to the article, what do I mean? I'll tell you a story of an article I wrote for my client, the topic was related to a cooking electronic, this made my job easier and stress-free, all I had to was research their best meal! This went a long way for me. I could interact with them using their favorite food. Another way this can go is when you write about common things that involve what they like and dislike. What do they like about that technology you are writing about? Try to state and talk about how not having good technology is a killjoy. Go down to their level and interact. And finally, you may ask yourself: Ok, but why is this important? There is a lot of answers to this one, but the one reason that somehow connects everything that we talked about so far, especially the quality and timing, is that... ### *It gives you the advantage of writing the content fast* When you understand your targeted audience, it improves your writing speed. I have come across some diverse articles since I began writing for clients. The interesting thing about these articles is that some are very hard to understand, especially the ones that have to do with bitcoin and other tech niches related topics. I am a little bit too old for that, and I still read paper-back books and use cash. But I needed a new experience and a challenge, so what did I do? For example, when you write about bitcoins, there are many goals that you can pursue, but in this case, the goal was to emphasize the advantages of digital trading. And while having this on my mind, I could write about bitcoin-related topics very efficiently, I understood the goal and started writing. And to my surprise, my writing was as fast as usual. Mastering the art of connecting with your audience is key to writing engaging content. So, spend time researching root information about your topic and your audience. Be more realistic and open. If it seems hard, you can write it in such a way, as if you are writing to a friend. Good writing skills are needed to thrive in the writing industry,
  • 5. Be Real and Connect to Your Reader

  • Being real and realistic to your readers is key in passing (or if you prefer - serving them) the intended information to them. As a writer who intends to go forward and make life easier for readers, you should bear in mind and understand *the art of being real* and connecting with your reader. What is the art of being real and connecting with your reader? It's like having a discussion with your spouse. In essence, it is like saying: "*I understand what you are saying* and then also adding "*And this is what I want from you*". How would you pass a piece of information to someone who possibly needs that sentence to be interpreted? Writing content that would make a reader open your page again is more important than writing strong grammar. Before writing, look at the given topic and observe what comes to your mind, see the need of the readers. Don't just write it for writing sake, take it overboard and connect with them. As a writer who has a strong passion for writing, one of my goals is to help the reader and make sure they get what they want as they read my content. Having this in mind, these are top things to be considered - Identify key areas of common interest You must know the common topic of the conversation, what is the goal you want to achieve with this content you are writing? It's very easy to spot, you don't need many words to explain a scene, just go straight to the point. Understand and apply key areas of interest as it matters to the related topic. I happen to have written an article which had to do with Indian food preparation, this article was geared to a specific group which involves using technology equipment to prepare a meal, this particular meal was eaten long ago by the ancestors of this group of people I am writing about. What I did was simple, I had to discover and implement a common ground with my readers by making mention of a tool and process their ancestors used in the preparation of this meal. - Applying CTA (Call To Action) As you write, it is important to understand the art of implementing CTA (Call To Action) as you write. Don't just write aimlessly, after writing the content there should be a CTA on the end phrase. What is CTA? It is simply a statement that is designed to get your reader or listener to respond immediately. It is famously used by business owners as a marketing strategy. - Get off the topic and share something personal This is the most interesting part of writing when you get ready to tell your story, the users are focused and attentive to listen to your story. This is like a CTA which gets them activated, share with your readers some personal experiences if they are related to the topic and can serve the purpose of achieving your predefined goals. It's not too hard to connect with your reader. Telling them personal things, hoping that it will light a spark, is always a good try. For example, if you are writing about new sneakers for runners, share your story and your feelings from the 10k that you ran. It can help. - Be real This is quite controversial, but do not try to be too much of an expert. It is important to share key messages, it is important that people understand your main point. But don't write academic essays or term papers when you are supposed to write about mattresses. - Write something funny When you are interacting with your readers, it is best to note down some words that would make them laugh. Don't just be a die-hard writer that just goes straight to point without finding common grounds to make your readers relaxed. Chipping in something funny has always turned out to bring life to the message you are passing to your reader. Final Word As you write your article or book, you need to put in these brief introductions listed above in order to be in line with your reader. The power of being real and connecting with your reader is not just beneficial to you, it is also beneficial to your reader. This simply means that the reader is at rest knowing fully well that you understand very well their needs and that you are optimistic in delivering dynamic solutions for solving them. All in all, you should keep writing, be more open and interactive with your audience.
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