Writing Tips From A Novice

Ashley Noel
5 min readNov 8, 2018

I joined medium to write, to have a voice. Today I want to share with you my writing history.

When I took up writing ten years ago I had zero experience. The only thing I had going for me was I liked to read. ‘How hard,’ I thought, ‘can writing a book possibly be?’ Skip to 2018 and I can answer that question for you…very hard.

I am a novice writer. The mistakes I have made on my journey so far have been many. Looking back I wish I had sough out more guidance along the way…but I didn’t and as a new writer I’ve suffered for it.

What I am hoping to do on medium is to write about the mishaps I have made thus far. Those of you who read my blogs may benefit from my hindsight and not repeat the same errors yourselves. Some of you may ask why you should listen to me, why not go straight to an expert whose work has been published, a writer who actually knows what they are talking about? True, you could. Sometimes though it is nice to battle on with someone who has the same level of experience as yourself. Writing is a lonely task, you need support if you want to achieve at it.

Before I go any further I’d like to reveal certain facts about myself so you can develop a better understanding of who I am and how I tick. I hope this will entice you to come back and read more of my blogs.

What set me on my writing pathway to begin with was my love of reading. My mother told me even as a young child I loved being read to. At the age eight I was mostly into Enid Blyton books. What I liked most about her stories were the adventurous plots, the intrigue, and the excitement. When I was in the middle of such a story I found it difficult to stop thinking about it. As you can imagine this did not go down well, everyone always used to tell me to get out of daydream land and into reality…

In my late twenties my dad suggested I read a book of short stories, written by W Somerset Mangham. He said I’d enjoy them. He was right, I did. Set in another era, the stories fascinated me, and to this day I remember most of the plots. About twenty years later I came across another one of Mangham’s books called, Of Human Bondage, and already a fan I bought it.

Within the pages I found a passage that sprang out at me. Words that I could relate to as both a reader and a writer. Today I want to share them with you just in case you’ve had moments when you’ve felt the same.

‘Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world. The habit of reading; he did not know that, thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life, he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of every day a source of bitter disappointment.’

Please don’t judge too harshly. I gave this passage to a friend of mine to read and all he could say was, ‘If you honestly feel this way, I feel sorry for you.’

Life is strange, we all have fun times like when I saw Bruce Springsteen live in concert, or when I holidayed in Manhattan. And we all have bad times, like when I had root canal treatment, or the time someone kicked the side mirror off my car door costing me a couple of hundred to fix. Mostly though we have mundane times. When I think about my life in general, it seems like an endless blur of nothing much happening. Maybe that is why I relate to W Somerset Mangham’s words.

As a reader I make it my business to learn about the authors whose books I read and take a closer glimpse at them. No writer develops a fictional character directly about themselves, but it is probably fair to say they might invent a character with similar personality traits. This is good because it lets you in. You can learn so much about authors through their fictional characters. Don’t ever be blasé about this.

Lucy Montgomery wrote regularly about escapism within the pages of her Anne of Green Gables series. The Anne character used it as a coping strategy. Later as Anne became older she commented more than once on the joys of day dreaming. Lucy Montgomery sadly committed suicide later in life. Maybe like Anne Shirley, phasing out into the world of make believe became her coping mechanism…maybe it even kept her alive longer.

Stephen King often writes about characters daydreaming in his books. In Tommyknockers he described a character (a writer) standing in a corner at a party totally engaged in other made up worlds. Could it be that King found solace from life by inventing more exciting ones?

J K Rowling actually got fired from her job for too much day dreaming. As we all know Rowlings suffered with depression at the time of writing the first Harry Potter book. Did she too look for escape? Did she sit behind Harry the first time he rode his broomstick? Did she feel her feet lift off the ground, and the wind in her hair as she soared through the air? Did she fall back to earth with a thud and find herself in her unit once more and say, ‘Oh God, not here again.’ Did her writing in fact save her from the mundane reality that had become her life.

Here is a question I want you to think about. Do writers make up stories to escape from life. Or are they merely just really creative people who have a story to tell?

I personally like to escape, have always enjoyed the thrill of it. Reality can be boring, but floating down the Mississippi on a raft with Huckleberry Fin is not. As long as I am in touch with my imagination I am going to use it to explore different worlds – which in my opinion far outshines the boringness which life can sometimes bring.

To be a good writer you need to be both a good reader, and a good daydreamer. You need to have an enquiring mind and be willing to explore people and places. If you are in any way like me this will come naturally to you.

For now that’s all I want to reveal about myself. There is more to come, so please keep checking for future blogs.

Until then, happy reading and happy daydreaming.