Writing

How to Support New Writers, Both Young and Old

If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t new to writing yourself, whether that be as a reader, author, or blogger.

It’s easy to forget that writing doesn’t come easily and naturally to everyone. Like almost everything else, it’s a skill that can be improved over time and ties into many other skills and personality quirks. For example, I’ve found that voracious readers tend to be naturally good writers when they put pen to paper because they’ve absorbed aspects of writing like building plot, structure and good character development.

But if somebody isn’t a strong reader or doesn’t think of themselves as imaginative or creative, the writing process can be pretty daunting.

Here are a few ways to support new writers no matter their age.

Encourage them to just write, without fear of typos or grammatical errors.

Spelling errors can be fixed. That’s what Grammerly and spellcheck are for. New writers will find it easier if they just focus on getting their thoughts or story on paper without fear of “getting it wrong.”

I’ve always hated the prevalence of grammar policing in the writing world because it comes across as uppity and daunting to outsiders and newcomers. While those things do matter if you’re publishing or sharing your work, too many writers are shut down early in their attempts to write for fear of misspelling a word.

Focus on giving them positive feedback initially.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been writing for a day or your entire life; when you put part of yourself on paper, your ego gets tied up with it. New writers should be consistently given positive feedback about what they are doing right, with constructive feedback given in small doses. The goal isn’t to baby anyone, but build their confidence.

If they get stuck, ask questions instead of providing suggestions.

Only the writer knows the story or plan inside their head. I’ve tried the route of giving suggestions before and surprise, my suggestions are never “quite right” for what they have in mind.

Instead, ask the writer questions to help them move past a blockade: What do you think this character would do next in this situation? How do you imagine this scene going? Asking questions in this way can help the writer brainstorm but come up with solutions that they like.

Do you consider yourself new to writing or an old hat? What advice would you give someone new to writing?

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