ADVICE TO ASPIRING WRITERS
1. Write every day. It doesn't matter what, just write. Try 'morning pages' where you write for about ten minutes on anything that comes into your head. Sometimes this will lead to ideas that can be used for a story or poem. It's amazing how the mind works. Go back over your written pages from time to time and see what you can use.
2. Read. A writer cannot write if they don't read. Read the sort of thing you want to write, the specific genre, soak it up. Seek out different poets. Read as widely as possible for pleasure and for research.
3. If you encounter writer's block, try going for a walk or do something different away from writing. If that doesn't work try exercises (writing exercises not press-ups, though you never know!) to get the imagination going again. If it's new ideas you are wanting to generate delve into self-help books for ideas. For stories have a card system for character, plot and conflict. Use different coloured card and then write several characters, plots and conflict. Mix them all up and choose one from each pile at random. Now write.
There are many ways to generate writing.
4. Always have a notebook and pen to record things wherever you are. I once stood in the street to write something down!
5. Sign up for a course, workshop or online course. Relish the feedback, even the bad. You will learn from it and move forward. You also get to meet people who are all like you. You realise that you are no longer alone! Challenge yourself with your writing and your vision. Step out of your comfort zone!
6. Join a writers' group, look at writers' websites, blogs and Facebook pages, writing magazine websites. See what's out there and sign up for free newsletters, follow a blog, start your own blog (it's easier than you might think), enter into conversations with other writers and potential writers. Network.
7. Do not get downhearted. We've all had rejection slips and that is part and parcel of writing. When you get them allow yourself to grieve, get angry, tell yourself 'never again'. Do whatever you need to for a few days then go back to your piece of work and see if there is anything you could change to improve it. It may be perfect as it is. Not all rejections are because its badly written. Whatever you do don't ditch it. Edit (if necessary) and submit it somewhere else.
8. Do your research and read the rules. Make sure you are sending the right sort of work to a publisher/competition. If they say no poetry, don't send poetry. And always read the rules and follow them, Many people are disqualified just for that reason alone - that includes deadlines!
9. Always have something out there. Don't wait for one piece to come back before you send out something else. Send out many pieces to different publishers/competitions/magazines. Whatever you do no send the same piece to everyone at the same time because if one person does accept it you have to withdraw it from everyone else. Not good!
10. Keep going. Persistence pays off. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep improving, keep reading etc. And keep looking for new outlets (online is becoming more and more popular) and share your knowledge with others. Listen to advice and go out there. Go to writing conferences, live reading events anything that will help you get a foot in the door.
NEVER GIVE UP!