Picture of a northern lake with the words "Tell a Good Story and Like What your Write" on it.

Early Writing Advice

I really don’t think I am the best choice to tell anyone how to write a book or even how to get started. There are lots of well-written blogs and articles that describe various writing processes in detail. They should be very helpful to anyone trying to write anything. But people ask me anyway.

Northern Wisconsin Lake

Last week I met a young writer and her mom visiting from Wyoming. Her name was Taylor, and she told me how much she wanted to pursue a career in writing.

“So, you like writing,” I said.

“I love writing!” was Taylor’s response. I asked them to pull up of couple chairs at the Village Booksmith. With an abundance of youthful exuberance, Taylor told me about her writing. She also told me that in some regards, writing was a challenge for her—spelling and proper punctuation were issues. These challenges were compounded by the fact that she often wrote longhand. Taylor was concerned that these things would prevent her from being a successful writer.

I asked her if she liked what she wrote.

“Yes,” she said. “Some things more than others.”

“Do other people like what you write?” I asked.

“My mom does of course, but I really think other people do too.”

Jeff Nania in water in northern Wisconsin lake

“Well, here is how I see it. In the end, spelling, punctuation, and all that stuff needs to be straightened out, but I think the most important thing is that you write something you like and that people enjoy reading. Bad writing is bad writing—even if every comma is in place and every word spelled correctly. So good writing comes first, and everything else can be fixed.”

I told her that was the best advice I had. I was honored to sign a book for her. A day after meeting Taylor and her mom, I dove into the bracing water of a northern lake. That particular lake is one of the settings for my Northern Lakes Mystery series. As I slowly swam across the water, I began writing my next book. I hope it ends up being a good story.

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