§ Writing is a lonely, solitary occupation. Writing takes time. You will miss being out in the sunshine or watching your favorite television show. You may miss family gatherings with a deadline near. You will miss sleep. Make friends with other writers. They understand your crazy burning need to create.
§ Find a place to write where you feel comfortable and secure. Arm the location with a good collegiate dictionary, The Chicago Manuel of Style, and an unabridged Roget’s Thesaurus. Roget’s has more than ten times the amount of synonyms than any online site. Then, find something that signals routine and the need to sit down and write—like making your bed, drinking that second cup of coffee or tea, or taking your dog for his morning walk—or evening one if you write at night.
§ Never, never send out your first draft to anyone, anywhere. If possible, let your words sit for a while to cool like a hot custard pie. It’s easier to see missing data, mistakes, and grammar problems when you’ve distanced yourself from your work. Having trouble finding your mistakes? If you’re prone to using Times New Roman on your computer screen, print your work out in a different font like Courier, Arial, or Century Schoolbook. Have a friend help you. Intensive editing is part of the writing process.
§ Don’t believe people who say that writing doesn’t have to be as perfect as possible—because that’s what editors are for. Everyday, editors reject dozens of manuscripts. Do you think they’ll accept one with grammar and punctuation mistakes or basic sentence structure problems? Your writing is a reflection of who you are. It’s your first shot at making an impression and getting a toehold into the publishing world. Just like a job interview, you need to make it a good one.