This is the start of a series I’ll be doing on my blog featuring my top ten writing tips. So, let’s get down to business:
1. Write (a lot)
Writing is a passion, but it’s also hard work. Not every moment involves sipping triple espressos at a hip coffee shop, letting the grinding of the machines fire your muse. Sometimes (most of the time), you have to forget about the dark sunglasses and adorable misanthropy and sit down at the kitchen table and write. And we’re not talking about a few expertly crafted sentences scribbled feverishly whenever the muse happens to strike. Writers who hope to make a living with their writing can’t wait for the muse. They have to write through hangovers, holiday weekends and looming mushroom-clouds of self-doubt. Some days will feel like caffeine-fueled love fests, every word streaming perfectly formed onto the paper. Other times, writing will feel like giving birth to a demon baby, the kind with pointy horns and teeth. No matter what type of day it is, try your best to write, and write a lot.
2. Give up and start again
When I was learning how to write, I would start and then give up on a new story at least once or twice a month. Maybe three or four times. I developed a reputation for writing brilliant starts to novels that I never finished. I had hundreds of them. Sometimes I’d get ten pages in, sometimes a hundred or more. This, admittedly, is not a great way to sell a novel, but it is a great way to learn how to write. What better training than trying (and failing) to write every type of story imaginable? This unwitting crash course also taught me a valuable lesson about how to remain sane as a writer: you have to be willing to let go. I’m not just talking characters or plot lines here, I’m talking about letting go of entire novels. Loads of them. Sometimes, what you’re putting down on paper just isn’t working, and the best thing to do is move on and write something else. Being able to give up with grace and minimal scarring is a vital skill for any career writer, as is developing the tenacity and grit needed to start again.
3-10 coming soon!