Want to be a writer?

Dear beginner writer,

Welcome! You have embarked on possibly the most exciting ride of your life by deciding to become a writer. Maybe you have a story you’ve always wanted to write, and don’t know where to begin, or how you would take the idea through to fruition.

I hope you enjoy this creative process. Here are a few ideas on where to start.


Where Do You Start?

Read books you like, at least a few pages every day.

Read books on the craft*. No matter what they say, story structure is important! (*links will follow the list of recommendations below).

Read books that inspire you.



Write every day for ten minutes or for a few pages, whichever feels best, even if you’re just writing blah-blah-blah. Sit and write continuously every day. If you don’t know what genre you should write, this brainstorming process may help you discover the fiction that is the most natural fit for you. Julia Cameron speaks of “the daily pages” in her creative writing system, and one of my teachers, Kate De Goldi, also recommends a daily schedule of writing freestyle for a sustained period.

Write everywhere, get in the habit of noting your observations and catching your inspirations.

Write your dreams. Keep a dream journal.


Observe foremost yourself. A writer must be able to show the reader through the medium of a story, ‘the window and the mirror’ as Kate De Goldi called it to look out at the world as it is and to look also back at ourselves, and be willing to look deep within our own psyches and examine what it is to be human.

Observe your family and friends, other people in public situations. The world is alive with stories and every single person shows us another way of being alive on the planet all of it is potential fodder for a story.


Observe movies and television as teaching mediums on the truly highest level of professional storytelling.

Learn about story structure. You may be a ‘planner’ (a writer who nails down every part of a story before they write), or you may be a ‘pantser’ (someone who writes on the fly, like me), everyone enjoys knowing the basics of story structure.

Learn the craft. Whether that be from books or online courses or night classes at a local college.

Learn about marketing for writers, read books, follow marketing bloggers, etc, as this is an essential part of being an author today, regardless of whether you publish yourself or go through traditional publishers.


Start your own blog. I know it seems early, but even if you just post about trying to write a book, you’ll get underway and be on the path to building your readership. In this business, build your name. It might as well be now. Modern authorship involves creating your personal brand, or platform, your own particular ‘digital footprint’ as Bob Mayer calls it – your presence on the web. Be it via your blog, a vlog, a YouTube channel, daily twitter posts, Facebook updates, an email Newsletter, or through joining social media discussions on Goodreads, and LinkedIn, the theory goes that you lay claim to your bit of turf.

Set up your website.

Why would you build an author’s website when you don’t have a book published yet? I did and I’m glad I did. Why? Because my social media guru and all-round super-heroine, Kristen Lamb, said something very sensible, re-creating one’s website before you publish. She said, do it now before you are run off your feet being a writer with deadlines to meet. She promised me (the reader), I’d thank her later. And I did.


Build your stories, your worlds, keep writing, keep producing prose, no matter what.

Build your life. “Live your life!” My very first writing teacher, Maria, told me when I took a fiction writing course with her at seventeen. I thought, no, I just want to write stories! But now, I know exactly what she means. Life will go by. Remember to enjoy and live it. There will be time to write about it later. Gathering life experiences gives us perfect fuel for future stories.

Xmas 2009 033

Follow the blogs of authors you like (their people are your people, and it’s a good way to form friendships with other writers online).

Follow good writing blogs. Articles on the craft of fiction often come in easy, bite-size parcels, and power-packed free tutorials.

Follow the leaders in the writing community who inspire you the most and then aim higher.

Daniel Jose Older

How Do You Improve?

Look at the world acutely, with fresh eyes, and take notes.

Look at those around you, really study them, and take notes.

Look at life and the world with as much enthusiasm as you can muster, for it is up to you, dear writer, as PJ Reece puts it, to ‘report back’ so take notes!


Listen to your thoughts, to the way you habitually think, this is good fodder for a story.

Listen to people’s conversations, literally eavesdrop.

Listen to dialogue in movies and on television, this is tight, economical writing at its best. You can learn a lot from studying movies, says my one-time tutor, the author and publisher Bob Mayer.

Xmas 2009 047

Feel your emotions when they pass through your body. One of my tutors, the wonderful Tiffany Inman-Lawson, says, studying our own emotions in as much detail as we can will provide us with an endless supply of responses our characters can have during times of upheaval.

Feel the way energy shifts in a room when people leave or enter, realize things going on at the subtle levels, and look at the body language. You may never use this in a story, however, you’re ever adding to your repertoire as the storyteller.

Feel for others, the best story comes from a place of empathy.


Smell things: citrus, coffee, smog, your dog, because yep, you guessed it, you may use this detail in your story. Including sensory details heightens the impact of fiction.

Smell things and then link it to a colour or a feeling, Kate De Goldi had us do these exercises. I thought nothing of it. Yet years later I find I use this technique now and again in my writing.

Smell the roses. If you can’t be still and in this present moment, you’ll never be able to report it back fully. And you won’t be a happy person.


Taste your food, your drinks, and try to describe what they taste like. I think it may have been Tiffany who suggested this exercise too, that you really take a few minutes to experience everything about drinking your first cup of tea or coffee, and then write about it. Whoa, it’s hard. Yet these things enrich our writing.

Taste your food. Does it make you think of a colour? Or a song? Kate would ask us. She was always trying to rewire our brains; I think! It’s good exercise for a writer’s muscles.

Taste your life and don’t be afraid to report back, especially about the messy stuff, you need that material for writing about the breakdown at the core of every story, or to borrow the phrase PJ Reece coined, the transcendental story heart. Sometimes you have to mine the emotions and faithfully report back on the difficult times.



What Else Could You Be Doing?

Join a critique group. Honestly, you’ll save yourself a lot of time.

Join online and in-person writer groups. They’re a place to share information and to make connections. You need people who know what’s what in this business. And you need the inspiration.

Join a club. It helps us writers who can be introverts to get out of our shells. Go to Toastmasters or sign up for a stand-up comedy class–as my Facebook friend, author, Fi Colston said recently, “If you can make em laugh, you’ll never be afraid of speaking in public again.”

Share with others in the online writing community, be generous, be kind, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and so on. Build friendships to last. Share your “likes” and comments on blogs and social media sites, share book releases, buy books and review them. In writers’ circles, we consider this good etiquette.


Recently, I shared with a friend the story of where my social media philosophy comes from. The story contains a perfect nugget of wisdom which I think is worth sharing.

Seven years ago, I was in a multi-level marketing business. One night, I had a conversation with our team leader that has stayed with me over the years and had a big impact, I feel, on my life.

This lady was a charismatic person and was a millionaire when I met her. She and I ended up leaving the weekly meeting at the same time that night. We stood in the parking lot and she said, “Is there anything you want to ask?”

“If you were to give one top piece of advice, what would it be?”

“Spread the love!” She said, “Never think about the sale, about the money, or about the business, no matter what you do. Spread the love.  Just concentrate and focus all your efforts on relationships and helping others. The rest will come.”

Those words really struck a chord with me. I’ve never forgotten that piece of advice. Whenever I have to deal with matters of marketing, I try to ‘spread the love.’ Make friendships. Look after people. Be generous. Be kind. Be considerate. Be creative. Have fun! Play. Dance. Laugh. Love. Sing. The rest will come.


The same is true of any story. When you come to write, or should I say, when the story comes to you, it has to come from a deep place. Ask yourself, does it matter to you?

I think it was Kate who said, ‘Does your story need to be told?’

If it does, then write, open the floodgates, give permission to your soul ‘to bleed onto the page’, let loose, throw abandon to the wind and write the story that only you can write. Don’t think about structure, grammar or spelling, or any of that, the time for thinking will come later. Get in contact with your soul and with the spark of life in everything around you and the stories will flow.

A list of links will follow below. If you seek information or guidance on story writing then see how to write a story, https://yvettecarol.wordpress.com/how-to-write-a-story/


*List of Resources for the Beginner Writer:

Books on the craft of writing:


William Strunk Jr. And E. B. White, The Elements of Style

John Yorke, Into The Woods

Bob Mayer, The Novels Writers Toolkit. “I started writing that over 20 years ago and have been updating it ever since. In this blog, I will update the excerpts for the next edition of the Toolkit.”

Larry Brooks, Story Engineering

PJ Reece, Story Structure to Die For


Books on marketing and social media platforms:

Kristen Lamb is the author of the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, and her latest, Rise of the Machines.


The “Author Branding Plan” is from the book Primal branding by Patrick Hanlon. You can find this also on Bob Mayer’s blog.

Marketing / writing blogs

Jane Friedman

Kristen Lamb’s blog

Storyfix, (Larry Brooks),


The Plot Whisperer’s Newsletter


“Kristen Lamb’s WANA tribe (We Are Not Alone) is a great online community where writers can find mutual support. Another is Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group. CritiqueCircle.com also offers many groups in a variety of genres, with the extra benefit of critiques. There are also great writers’ groups on Facebook and Google Plus and in forums all over the Web.” ~ Anne R. Allen (2015)


Online writing classes




‘The only way to learn is to take risks, make mistakes. Go out, make a mistake. Have the guts to fail. Talk about it. And there’s nothing wrong with that.’ ~ Eunice Kennedy Shriver

  1. Thanks this is really helpful. I already do some of this but had never thought about the importance of smell. I’m note sure I have mentioned in much in my book, something I shall correct. Spread the love is also great advice something I wish more people do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      My pleasure. Yes, where the sense of smell is concerned, you don’t want to overdo it. I’ve experimented with this ever since I first heard the advice to use the senses. Just a few references in a whole book will suffice. In my upcoming release, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ the grandson is pulled into the lee beneath his grandmother’s chin, where she ‘smells of cinnamon and butter.’ Then, the first time we’re introduced to her, she smells of ‘beeswax,’ and these allusions to smell create a certain atmosphere that pulls the reader into the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Marketing a book is quite daunting and I thank you for sharing some blogs that might help in a better understanding of the process. Thanks, again for so many helpful ideas on writing. I really did not want to use social media in promoting my book, but now I am finding that it does discipline me to write on a regular basis. I realize, as you’ve explained so well, this is very important in becoming a better writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Yes, I know what you mean, Claremary, I used to be wary of social media. Kristen Lamb recommends blogging three times a week, as it does limber up the writing muscles, apart from building connections with readers. I find that in normal times, once a week is plenty for me, and yes, as you say, it’s a good discipline.
      Thanks for the feedback. You’ve reminded me, I need to get on to adding to this list of links! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. yvettecarol says:

    Clare, I’m glad it helped. 🙂


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