When I write, I like to sit alone on my bed, plug in my earbuds, and reread the surrounding text. This helps keep me from restating the same information when it is not important. When I am doing a comprehensive edit, I use the feature of my word possessor that allows me to see the paragraphs I'm deleting alongside the paragraphs I'm writing --that way, I can see the original notion and still start from scratch a second time. Not only does this improve the quality of work I put forth for the revision, I find that this helps me make sure that all the important information and the details make it into the second draft! ~SinsofMidnight
As a writer, I have a lot of secrets, tricks, and tools.
This is where I bare my soul and give you the tips and tools that help me write efficiently, effectively, and entertainingly.
People Watching It might sound a little creepy, but it's true. It's also a popular exercise for psychology and sociology classes, and the overlap is intentional. Writers need to have a grasp of culture and behaviors and the psychological state of their own characters, and we can frequently find new material by watching others. Whenever I leave the house --whether to eat out, shop, apply for a job, or interact with someone in another way-- I always watch the people around me. Different kinds of people will do different kinds of things, and through long-term observation, it becomes rather easy to differentiate the kinds and types. When creating a character that fits a type (especially when it is not the same one you are), these observations really come in handy and help you flush out a character's details.
Writer's Notebook I can never predict where inspiration will come from. Sometimes it's a dream or a conversation, other times a song or a quote that gets stuck in my head. Frequently, it's a question I've been dwelling on or a wrinkle in a story I need to work out. It's important that I'm ready any time that inspiration strikes. Personally, I carry three different notebooks with me at all times --one specifically for fan-fictions and single stories I'm working on (things like "Strings" or "Still Doll", both of which are all mine but stand alone), one that is dedicated to the series that I'm working on most frequently (that would be the set that the Reunion Federation setting was created for. For more information, visit this page.), and one where I write down entire scenes that pop into my mind. Still, I occasionally get caught without one and have to write it down in one of the notebooks later. If you're not yet willing to commit to a single notebook, try a binder where you can store all of the pages you've scribbled down ideas on. I personally have several --one for my "paranormal" universe, one for my LGBT original pieces, one filled with story-starts that date back to my middle school years, one for all of my fan-fictions starts and ideas, one for my writing challenge, one for my ever-expanding One Trick Pony Universe, and one specifically for sci-fi setting.
Research I'm always attracted to topics I have little to no experience with. For example, I've never worked at a strip-club, but I frequently write about characters that do. The key is research. A writer should never be afraid to research, but also know that sometimes, they just need to let it go to get an idea out. It can be fixed before the story is shared or published. Two things that must be researched thoroughly and presented correctly are occupations and settings (locations and time-periods).
Perfection The first draft is never perfect. Trust me: I've been writing most of my life, and this is always true. There is always some fluke spelling error or improper word or grammatical mishap. But it's also important to not get caught up editing a chapter until it's perfect. Odds are, the rest of the story will never get written because there are still kinks in chapter one! Never discard anything halfway through because it's awful. It's unfortunate, but you still have to crawl, stand, and stumble before you can walk. So keep your baby steps --you might pull an idea from one of those pieces later. It happens!
READ! I know it's impolite to shout on the internet, but this is important! A lot of people --some of them will even be professional writers!-- will tell you to isolate yourself from other materials when you write. I believe that it's important to read when you write and, frequently, what you write. Read things that are in the genre your working in and get a feel for how others handle it. I find that it can really take a lot of pressure off! However, there will still be some authors you will need to avoid. Your list will be compiled through personal experiences, because you will find that certain authors will influence you, wanted or not. I always avoid reading Laurell K. Hamilton when I'm writing, because her voice seems to infect me somehow. I'll start writing like her, which is an awful thing to do when you're trying to create something new (I got away with it only because the piece I was working on when I first noticed this phenomenon was a fan-fiction).
Listen Not all people are good at listening, but it is a good trait for a writer to have. If you want to create a character who is from England, but you have no idea how to write their speech to differentiate it from an American character, one of the best things you can do is listen to an English person speak. If you don't happen to know one, try watching a British television program like Sherlock, Doctor Who, or any thing else that strikes your fancy. Listening is very important to the development of dialogue. It helps you recognize how a conversation should sound and flow, even if it feels very different on paper. Listening can also be very important in the editing process. I tend to read my piece aloud to myself because it helps me catch some of the smaller errors and mistypes.
Vocabulary A writer's vocabulary is very important --it's one of the reasons all of your teachers stressed it in high school. The same old staid, boring words make your writing boring and dry. So throw in a new word here or there, but make sure you're using it properly! If you don't know that " licentious" means lewd, lascivious, or immoral, you really shouldn't use it. Always use a thesaurus or a dictionary. If you're not sure you're using a word right, look it up! I personally use dictionary.com and the affiliated thesaurus because they are easy to use and convenient when I'm working on a piece on my computer.
Practice Writing is a skill, like playing an instrument or making jewelry. You need to practice, practice, practice before you get good at it! And even if you're good at it, it's something you should always work toward improving. I started writing fan-fiction for this purpose, actually. Another thing you can do it do a daily writing prompt.
Challenge Yourself Challenging yourself is important! Stagnant writers do not improve. There are a lot of writer exercises, prompts, and challenges available, including one I designed myself that is supposed to challenge you to write things you haven't done before! If you are interested in that particular challenge, it's available here (on dA) and it is supported here by a community on livejournal. Check the Tools for more things to help you practice!
Questions Characters are people, too! It's very important that you get to know them and work well with them. One of the methods of getting to know them is to "interview" them. You can build your own list of questions to work from or just start from a list of questions you stumble upon somewhere. My first list of questions was a personally compiled one, and it served me well for a while. I much prefer the set I use now, which are initially based off of something that was passed around deviantART for a while, plus a few more questions suggested by my friends.
Found Materials I mentioned the principle of a writer's notebook and two different ways to do it in number two of this list. If you choose not to use either method --or even if you do!-- there is another way to scribble down your ideas. In fact, you've probably done this already! "Found materials" is a term that followed me from some of my art classes. Roughly, a found material is something that already has one purpose --and has been used for that purpose-- that you put to use another way. So scribbling ideas on an old receipt between the lines of printed text counts for this. You can use old greeting cards (I've used new ones that would never have been put to use otherwise), newsletters, and almost anything else! I find that writing on new materials can help keep you interested in the piece your working on. I've written two to three scenes for a story on a single greeting card (my handwriting is tiny) and kept a story from dying out because of lack of inspiration!
I like to work on several projects at the same time. I'll be working on two or three new stories, doing a serious revision, and writing up my author notes for a fan-fiction all at the same time. All of the projects are very different --like I'll be working on a music-centric piece, a fan-fiction with an almost historical setting, an in-universe fan-fiction, and editing something I wrote in 2009. This helps to keep me from getting bored in my work and it helps to keep me from getting in a rut with my writing. ~SinsofMidnight