My Five Tips for New Writers

By JonBurke Goals for Writers 2 Comments on My Five Tips for New Writers

Sometimes I am not the best at taking my own advice, or the advice of others for that matter but here are a few tips I have discovered the hard way and I hope you don’t fall into the same trap I did early on and get caught up into the logistics of what you are doing and spending valuable time on the idea of being a writer instead of actually being a writer. 

1)      Don’t worry about getting published.  This notion seems a bit counterproductive but I think every Newbie writer has this as a goal.  But worrying about it too much too soon is detrimental.  When I was younger I was a runner I hated running.  It was work.  It wasn’t until I took the advice of Jim Fixx that was to forget the stop watch, forget how fast you can run a mile, and just enjoy your runs that I began to actually enjoy it.  I let go of all the performance issues of time, distance goals and I was just running.  Before I knew it I was running longer and faster then I had ever run before. 

Writing is the same way.  You need to let go of all the usually benchmarks of success and just write.  You will get better before you know it.    

2)      Let someone else worry about the publication.   There are so many outlets to get your work out there now why spend hours building a web site, or a print publication.  You are a writer!  Let someone else be the editor and publisher.  At least until you are ready to get to your feet wet doing the logistics.

When I first started writing I thought I wanted to start a magazine, sell ad space, I was going to have the next big idea and I would be able to quit my day job and have my own publishing company in a few years.  What I didn’t realize is what it takes to actually do it.  I spent hours working on layouts and the graphic design portion of it that I missed the mark on what makes a publication click…the writing. 

I made the same mistake with a few websites which sucked up even more of my time because I was trying to learn the programs to produce the site.  Here I was trying to be a writer and I was doing everything but writing. 

3)      Volunteer to be a writer.  I know getting clips is a big portion of landing future projects and it’s all about building the book, but how do you get clips if you have never written anything before?  Grant writing, copy writing, and even free blogging gigs are a great way to start. 

You have a lot less pressure on yourself if you’re doing it for free, and I have gotten some of the best satisfaction in writing by helping non-profit organizations secure additional funding through grant writing.

Not sure where to look try and do a search for “writer”.

4)      Don’t get discouraged. OK, this one is easier said than done!  Believe me I know.  And this seems a bit like common sense but being a Newbie writer is a little like being third string on a basketball team.  Sure you are part of the team but does anyone really take you that seriously? Not until you get into the game do you get any respect. 

As a beginning writer you get treated about the same.  The established journalist think you are a hack, editors treat you like you just asked them to for some spare change and sometimes even your family doesn’t get it. 

All of this can be enough for you to wonder why I bother.  For me I am beginning to realize it’s not about everyone else but it’s about what I want to do and writing is something that makes ME happy.  Eventually it will make someone else happy too. 

5)      Bare your soul. As writers our mind flows onto paper like a clogged sink sometimes.  I know some assignments have specific guidelines but getting your feelings, and emotion into that piece of writing takes a plunger sometimes.  You have to forget about things like, “What if my mother reads this”? Or what if I offend someone. 

Speaking your mind can take some practice.  But you have to get past all the restrictions to have the true you come out in your writing.  I don’t care how good a writer you are your readers will know if you are not being sincere or real with yourself. 

If I could give only one piece of advice it would be to write, write, and write some more.  Only through discover of yourself will your art come to life and with that life will come success.

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  • Jayne Calvin
    Posted on June 29, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Jon, these are great tips and I agree wholeheartedly with all of them. Another boost for me was attending writers conferences (luckily for me there is a local one in Orlando annually so it’s not too expensive.) Also, state writer’s associations often sponsor literary contests and I try to enter as many as I can- if you place it gives you some traction. Finally, a writer at one conference I attended advised that we post the word FEARLESS on our computers. Meaning- don’t hold back, just as you said. If you’re really worried about someone reading your work, a pen name can be obtained legally and it’s not that expensive. Please visit me at I’d love to hear from you on my blog!

  • JonBurke
    Posted on June 29, 2011 at 11:42 am


    I like FEARLESS. It goes with one my family always says “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome”.

    All great points as well.

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