Tag Archives: writing tips

Writing Advice I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

I’ve been writing almost consistently for fifteen years now. Once I realized I could put my ideas down on paper, I’ve never been able to stop. The last fifteen years of my writing journey have been a whirlwind of learning my process, learning the writing craft, getting involved in the writing community, and so much more. But in all that time, there are three things I wish I’d known before I ever started on my writing and publishing journey. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self these three pieces of writing advice, I absolutely would.

So, what three pieces of advice do I wish I’d learned?

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
2.) Read – and Read a Lot
3.) Writing is Rewriting

I’m sure you’ve heard these pieces of writing advice before. But when I first started writing, we didn’t have the internet to look up common writing advice, or search Youtube for “newbie author mistakes”, and so on. Through trial and error, I made huge writing mistakes, but had I known these three tips beforehand, I’m sure I could’ve avoided them – and I want to help you avoid them, too!

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

This tip isn’t just limited to writing. You’ve probably heard it in regards to many different areas of life. But for me, it really means one thing: Don’t put all your hopes and dreams into one story idea.

I wrote my first novel when I was twelve, and fell head over heels in love with the idea. So much so that it took over my entire writing life. I rewrote that first novel – from scratch – about eleven times. I queried it endlessly. I even wrote the sequels. And as you can imagine, my journey through the query trenches resulted in…nothing. No response, no literary agent.

I finally had to trunk it.

But this led me down a path of wondering what to write next. Sure, I had other ideas in my head, but for the last almost ten years of my life, I had only pursued that one novel. I’d never branched out, never written another idea. I didn’t even know if I was capable of writing another novel.

But I was.

It was a very long and hard journey in teaching myself how to write another book. While I don’t regret rewriting that novel over and over again – it definitely helped me develop my own process and a writing habit – the anxiety, depression, and overwhelming sense of failure of not knowing if I was capable of writing another book is something I wouldn’t want to wish on any writer out there.

Remember: just because you have to put your project aside and work on something else, it doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Put all of your heart and soul into the book you’re writing, but don’t limit yourself to that one idea. You do have other ideas inside of you, and you are capable of writing them.

2.) Read – and Read a Lot

If you haven’t read my “How Reading Made Me a Better Writer” blog post, I’ll link it here, as it goes more in-depth on what I want to touch on for this tip.

I’d been an avid reader most of my life. It wasn’t until I hit my late teens and early twenties that I suddenly lost my love of reading. I wanted to read, but nothing on the shelf caught my interest. I wasn’t interested in fantasy either, which had become widely popular. I was only reading – maybe – a couple of books a year.

It wasn’t until one day that I realized I wasn’t “leveling up” as a writer. My writing reached a level where it wasn’t improving. I didn’t know the popular tropes and clichés, or why some books were bestsellers and others weren’t. I realized that if I wanted to be a professional writer, and have a life in this business, that I needed to bust my butt and actually pick up reading again.

So I did.

And I vastly improved in so many ways. From my writing craft, to my knowledge of the interest – everything about me and my writing improved. Since then, I’ve become an avid reader once again, and I read several books a month now. Reading can do so much for you, not as just a wonderful hobby, but

As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

3.) Writing is Rewriting

For the longest time I never understood this concept:

“What do you mean I have to rewrite the book?”
“I just finished the first draft. You mean I have to write everything all over again?”

Those – and other misconceptions – wracked my brain whenever I heard this piece of writing advice. But guess what? It’s true.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to write your entire book from scratch, like I’d been led to believe. What this really means is that the first draft of anything you write will be crap. It will have awkward phrasing and prose, character motivations might not be clear, the dialogue might be stilted and awkward, crucial descriptions might be missing…and the only way to fix these issues to rewrite what you’d already written.

But having all of that in your first draft doesn’t make you a bad writer. Every writer in the history of writers has had to revise their books. It’s just part of the process.
When I first started writing, I didn’t understand this. I thought my first drafts were fine after a little reread and some editing – but I was very wrong.

Every novel needs time to sit after you’ve finished writing it. Every writer needs to come back to their project with a clear mind, so they can see what is and isn’t working within the manuscript, and that’s why getting feedback from outside sources is so important, too.

This is a concept I wish I’d understood years ago. If I’d known this sooner and given my earlier manuscripts time to sit and get feedback on them – and then give them the revisions they deserve – I wonder how much of a better chance I’d have had at hooking a literary agent. This is one piece of advice I’ve had to learn the hard way, but I’m so glad I understand it now.

Learning these three pieces of writing advice have helped me tremendously, and I hope they help you too!


Have any other pieces of writing advice you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Questions to Ask Beta Readers (My List)

Since we talked all about beta readers a few weeks ago, today, I thought I’d share my list of questions that I send out to my own betas. When I was first looking for betas back in the end of February, I came up with this list, and have been sending it out each time I enlist a beta. I find this list touches on everything that will help me as a writer know what needs to be fixed.

The important thing is to make sure you’re asking clear, concise questions that betas can answer easily. If you need more feedback based on something within the world, or a character, be sure to ask more detailed questions regarding that certain subject.

Note: This list is tailored to my own tastes and what I’m looking for betas to answer. Feel free to copy this list and switch it up to meet your own needs!

#1: Did you notice any obvious repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization errors? Examples?
#2: Is there anything about the world-building that doesn’t make sense and could use elaboration? If so, please explain.
#3: Did the setting interest you? Was the world vivid in your imagination?
#4: Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? Why or Why not?
#5: Were there any parts that confused you?
#6: Did you notice any inconsistencies? If so, where/what?
#7: Were there any spots where the story lagged or you lost interest? If so, why and where?
#8: Were there any scenes that bored you or had you skipping pages? Why?
#9: Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to hold your interest?
#10: Were any parts of the plot predictable?
#11: What grabbed your attention most?
#12: Were you confused by the multiple POV’s?
#13: Who was your favorite POV? Why?
#14: Who was your least favorite POV? Why?
#15: What was your favorite and least favorite part of the book?
#16: Did the climax feel climactic, was the payoff in the end worth reading the whole book?
#17: Was the end satisfying?
#18: If this book were part of a series, would you pick up the sequel?
#19: What was your immediate thought after finishing the book?
#20: Lastly, why did you keep reading?
Bonus Question: Is there any way I can repay you for taking your valuable time to read my work? I am available to return the favor of a beta read as well!


What do you think of this list? Are you going to use it the next time you’re looking for betas? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

9 Tips to Make Writing a Habit

Writing is a special gift. But why do so many writers struggle to actually find time to put words on the page? Well, it might be because they haven’t developed a writing habit.

Life can be extremely busy. Between full-time and part-time jobs, children, social commitments, or other day-to-day things, finding the time to sit down and let your creativity flow can be incredibly difficult for some people. And there’s nothing wrong with that; taking care of your children is obviously more important than writing. But if you find yourself really wanting to develop a writing habit, and are struggling to figure out how, here are eight tips that might help you out!

(Keep in mind: You don’t have to follow all of these tips. But implementing just one or two of them into your daily schedule might just improve your writing life!)


#1: Write at the Same Time Everyday

Whether it means getting up an hour before everyone else, or waiting until everyone else goes to bed, find a time that works for you. Find a slot in your day – morning, afternoon, evening – that will have no interruptions and no distractions.

Writing at the same time every day will not only train your mind that that time slot is the time to write, but also let your family and friends know that time is when you’re busy. Commit yourself to this every time you write. You don’t have to write every day to be a writer – but you have to be consistent.

#2: Use Triggers

Maybe it’s your favorite cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Or maybe the scent of your favorite candle or incense. Whatever it is, use it to your advantage. Before you sit down to write, implement this trigger into your writing schedule.

If you get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee the first thing before you write. The smell of the coffee, and the act of getting it, will tell you brain it’s time to write. Over time, these triggers will help get you in the mood for a writing session.
Whatever it is – coffee, tea, a scent, maybe meditating an hour beforehand – use whatever trigger will work best for you. It’s important to get yourself excited to sit down and write, and be in the right headspace.

#3: Eliminate Distractions

Turn off the TV. Keep your phone in the other room. Disconnect from the internet. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself distraction free, do it. If you sit down to write during your allotted writing time, but find yourself checking your phone, or browsing the internet, it’s time to eliminate any distractions.

Distractions will only keep you from getting your writing done. Your writing time has to be for you. The internet can wait. The TV can wait. They’re not going anywhere.

#4: Organize Your Writing Space

Wherever you write – at a desk, the kitchen table, the couch in the living room – make sure it’s clean and organized. Having a clean space free of distractions will keep your mind clear. Not only that, it will prevent you from wanting to get up and organize the space instead of write.

Your space should be clean and organized, but also allow you access to everything you need – a pen, notebook, etc. – so you don’t have to get up and go search for it. Keep your writing space creative. Fill it with motivational quotes or posters. Hang up posters from your favorite TV shows or movies. It’s important to keep your space neat, but to also make it a safe haven where you can sit, uninterrupted, and let your ideas flow.

#5: Set Small Goals First

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to aim high for bigger goals. But if you’re trying to develop your own writing a habit, shooting big might not always be the best.
It’s best to start small and pace yourself.

Start with a small word count or time frame. For example, tell yourself you’re going to write five-hundred words for the day. Or you’re going to write for twenty minutes straight with no distractions. Whatever it is, push yourself to meet these goals.

Once you’ve managed to meet these goals for a few days, or maybe a week straight, begin to raise them. Instead of writing five-hundred words, bump up your count to seven-hundred. Increase your time from twenty minutes to thirty. Gradually, you will begin to meet higher word count goals without burning yourself out.

The important thing to remember is to take it in strides. Writing is like a muscle, and you need to train it appropriately. An athlete wouldn’t push themselves to run a marathon when they’ve never run one before, or even trained for it, would they?

Writing might be a different kind of “sport”, but you need to train yourself all the same.

#6: Make Writing a Priority

If there’s one tip you should follow out of everything else, this should be number one.
To put words on the page, to make this a habit, to find any success as a writer, you have to make writing a priority. There will be times when you need to turn things down in order to write. There will be times when you just have to say “no”.

For example, let’s say Friday nights are the only free time you have to write. But every Friday night you go out with friends and get drinks the entire evening. Are you making writing a priority here? No.

There may be times when you have to put writing above all else. This doesn’t mean neglect your health, your children, your spouse, or your loved ones – but it may mean sacrificing fun social activities, or missing the newest episode of a show you love, because you’ve made writing a priority instead.

Don’t burn yourself out, however. Remember to take a step back and have fun. Remember to take care of yourself. But don’t constantly put writing to the side in pursuit of something else, because if you do, you may never find the time to write.

#7: Set Boundaries

Once you’ve decided to make writing a priority, you will have to set boundaries. This means being able to say “no” to friends, family, and loved ones. This means telling people that this time slot you have – maybe an hour on your lunch break at work – is now writing time, not time for socializing.

Your friends and family may be frustrated by this. But it’s important to set those boundaries with them. Your writing time and space needs to be respected.

Writing is like work. Your family wouldn’t just barge into your workplace, would they?

#8: Be Accountable and Consistent

If you’re trying to build a writing habit, keep yourself accountable. Make sure you’re following your goals and the schedule you’ve set yourself. If you need to, find an accountability partner who will cheer you on and motivate you to keep going.

If you don’t hold yourself accountable, it’s easier to slip up and lose consistency. The more you lose consistency, the harder it will be to form a writing habit.

#9: Reward Yourself

Maybe there’s a movie coming out that you’ve been waiting to see, or a book you’ve been eyeing on the shelf. Whatever it is, use it as a motivator to keep yourself going. For every five-thousand words you write, you can treat yourself to a fancy Starbucks drink, or a sweet treat. When you write ten-thousand words, treat yourself to a fancy dinner. You get the gist.

Keep a reward in the back of your mind. Something you can finally give into buying or doing. Writing should be fun, too. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself when you hit a milestone.


No matter what tips and tricks you decide to implement here, the important thing to remember is that you need consistency to form a new habit. Research shows that it can take sixty-six days to form a habit. Writing is like everything else – you need to train yourself to sit down, show up, and do the work.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
— Louis L’Amour

XOXO – Devon