Pencil tipsClear back in 2007, Melissa Donovan in her blog Writing Forward ( posted what she called “The 22 Best Writing Tips Ever.” Twelve years later, it’s still one of the most-visited posts on the blog. With a nod to Melissa, I’m sharing it here with very minor edits. Enjoy!

  1. Do it. Write.
  2. Read as much and as often as you can. Remember, every writer is first a reader.
  3. Keep a journal or notebook handy at all times so you can jot down all of your brilliant ideas. If you’ve got a smartphone, make sure it’s loaded with a note-taking app. A voice-recording app also comes in handy for recording notes and ideas.
  4. Make sure you have a dictionary and thesaurus available whenever you are writing.
  5. Be observant. The people and activities around you will provide you with great inspiration for characters, plots, and themes.
  6. Invest in a few useful resources; start with the essentials: The Chicago Manual of Style and The Elements of Style.
  7. Learn the rules of grammar and then learn how to break them effectively.
  8. Stop procrastinating. Turn off the TV, disconnect from the internet, tune out the rest of the world, sit down, and write.
  9. Woman readingRead works by successful authors to figure out what earns a loyal readership.
  10. Read works by canonical authors so you understand what constitutes a respectable literary achievement.
  11. Join a writers’ group so you can gain support from the writing community and enjoy camaraderie in your craft.
  12. Create a space in your home especially for writing.
  13. Proofread everything at least three times before submitting your work for publication.
  14. Write every single day.
  15. Start a blog. Use it to talk about your own writing process, share your ideas and experiences, or publish your work to a reading audience.
  16. Subscribe to writing blogs on the internet. Read them, participate, learn, share, and enjoy!
  17. Use writing exercises to improve your skills, strengthen your talent, and explore different genres, styles, and techniques.
  18. Let go of your inner editor. When you sit down to write a draft, refrain from editing, proofreading, or rewriting until that draft is complete.
  19. Woman with head on deskAllow yourself to write poorly—to write a weak, uninteresting story or a boring, grammatically incorrect poem. You’ll never succeed if you don’t allow yourself a few failures along the way.
  20. Make it your business to understand grammar and language. Do you know a noun from a verb, a predicate from a preposition? Do you understand tense and verb agreement? You should.
  21. You are a writer, so own it and say it out loud: “I am a writer.” Whether it’s a hobby or your profession, if you write, then you have the right to this title.
  22. Write, write, write, and then write some more. Forget everything else and just write.

Melissa DonovanMelissa Donovan studied creative writing at Sonoma State University, where she earned a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing. Since then, she has worked as a technical writer, copywriter, professional blogger, and writing coach. My poetry has appeared in convergence: an online poetry of journal and art, and her debut novel, Engineered Underground, was released in March 2015.

She is the author of several books on the craft of writing, including Ready, Set Write, 101 Creative Writing Exercises, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, and 10 Core Practices for Better Writing. She also wrote the Writer’s Toolbox series, which includes What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing and Story Drills: Fiction Writing Exercises

(Photos: colored pencils, The Spruce Craft; woman with books, Wordpress; woman with head on desk,; Melissa Donovan,


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