Saturday, 2 August 2008

My top 10 tips for writing

Here are my top tips for writing. They have really helped me out since I started writing on a regular basis:

1. Tell yourself you are a writer. I came out as a writer in September of last year and the more I say it the more I believe it. Check out my first blog post. You heard it here first!

2. Try and write something, however little, every day. Try Helen’s 100 words a day blog. I have found it really works and stops writing becoming something you dread.

3. Try and stay away from the TV/Facebook/You tube (its easier said than done I know) – these are my biggest distractions of all time. I have to sit in my room where the telly has not got very good reception, but I am currently addicted to Lauren Lukes makeup videos on You Tube. Having said that its nice to have breaks and they can sometimes allow for ideas to come through when they are not being forced out.

4. A laptop is good to have or a computer as if you are like me it is impossible to read back my own writing. Internet is great for research, just as long as its research for your writing and not what eyeshadow you should be wearing that day!

5. Be organised – Y writer is a great tool to use. I read about this on Paige’s blog and it has helped me organise the novel I’m writing. It was in such a mess so thanks to Paige for blogging about that (and to Calistro for pointing it out). This is a tool for editing but as my novel was looking like a tarantino movie I had to use this while still in the writing stage.

6. Write a blog or keep a diary – whatever you like. I have noticed some You Tubers even do it. I don’t look too great on camera so I don’t think I will be doing that any time soon.

7. Join the community – you have no idea how many people there are in your shoes. I thought I was the only one who wanted to be a writer but couldn’t and I’m not. I have had so much help with my writing be it advice, encouragement, links to competitions, useful website etc. The most helpful person I know (I have never met her in person I should note) is Calistro so a big thank you and shout out to you if you are reading this.

8. Enter competitions. I have entered a few now and although I haven’t won any its built up my confidence and I have had some advice from one editor in particular who wants to publish one of my stories.

9. Always keep a notebook handy. You have no idea when inspiration strikes. You can be in the bath, half asleep in bed, on the toilet, standing up on the bus. It always happens to me in those places. I think its because I’ve switched off and not really thinking about anything which allows the ideas to come to the surface. (obviously I know you wouldn’t have a notebook while on the toilet but keep one as close as possible.

10. Learn to take criticism and advice. You can join writers forums where you can post stuff and have it critiqued by fellow writers. If this is daunting for you (like me) you can ask a friend or relative to read your work and tell you what they like/don’t like. My sister and my mum are my target audience so I always ask them to critique my work.

I have loads more so I will keep adding these for anyone who is interested. Please comment with your top tips too!

PS As a kind of a MeMe I tag anyone who wants to post their top ten tips (let me know if you do so I can come over and learn a thing or two!)


  1. I can only use Ywriter for editing purposes. However hard I try to use it at the creating stage - I can't do it!

    And I think we should both thank Calistro for pointing out ywriter. Without ywriter, I'd probably STILL be editing Book 1!

  2. Hello. :D

    The only ones I disagree with are 5 and 8 - I'm a rabid anti-outliner and just write 'by the seat of my pants' as they say; no notes or research...that's not to say I don't carry a notepad with me; I just don't plan a novel once I decide to write down 'chapter one'. I keep my notebooks for things like commenting on the weather or an interesting turn of phrase.

    And I've never entered a writing competition in my life that I can recall!

    2 is really important to me; I'm a 'feast or famine' writer and keep telling myself to get into a routine and never do. Laziness on my part, nothing more.

    Regarding 4; have you heard of such a thing as an AlphaSmart Neo (google it; marvellous machines)? I use one for my first drafts; they make it difficult to read back so you have to keep moving forwards. And there's no internet connection so no timewasting!

    10's so important too. There are so many precious people out there who don't want to kill their darlings but then again some critiquers (is that even a words? Let's call them critters instead) don't say anything beyond, "I like that part. I don't like that part. I would change this part. Here's how you should write it..."

    I'd be more interested in things like, "Did this person stay in character for you?" or "Do you believe character X would be capable of doing this, that or the next thing?" or "Did you guess ahead of time how I was going to write the conclusion and if not, did it still 'fit'?"

    PS: I've linked to your blog from mine as I love discovering new writing blogs.

    PPS: Number 11: Stay away from other blogs until you have your own writing quota done for the day! :D

  3. Paige - thanks for pointing that out as I had no idea. I have edited the blog (about three times now) to point that out. I cannot thank Calistro (and all the other bloggers) enough so I will just keep thanking her and singing her praises. I owe her a VERY big drink at the least.

    Hello there Papercuts - I love to see new visitors (i also love the pic as I am a huge SP fan).
    I should mention that the tips aren't suited to all as I am not the most accomplished and experienced writer among us but I found as a newbie that those 10 in particular were so helpful. Hopefully someone new to this will find them useful.
    I have never heard of the AlphaSmart Neo but I will go and have a look now.
    I agree I don't like hearing bad things said about a character I love or a scene I'm crazy about but I take it all on board as hopefully I won't be the only one reading what I am writing. Luckily my mum and sister are very tactful without being too soft.
    Great no.11 - I should stay off my own blog too until I have written my quota. Must remember that!!
    I have linked back to your blog as I love reading as many as I can.

  4. This is a great idea. I'm not sure I can come up with ten tips, but I'll certainly give it some thought and see if I can come up with a couple. I share your admiration for Calistro (I have met her and she's lovely) and for Helen for setting up the 100 words a day blog!

  5. Hello again. :D

    Here's the link where I made all my SP cartoons:

    And I've just realised; my last blog post was taken straight from the end of every single episode!

  6. Aw, thanks for the shout out. That's really sweet :o) *disappears off as she's not supposed to be spending time on the net herself!*

  7. Shouldn't "Have something compelling to write about" appear in that list? No amount of technique in the world will help you if you don't have anything interesting to say. That's why I'd hate to be writer!

  8. Thanks Helen - I really hope that we can attract some new writers. I had never heard of the novel racers or Y writer this time last year so hopefully our helpful tips will be useful to some. I don’t know where I would be without all the help and support.

    Thanks Papercuts - I made one up and it looks just like me!! I couldn’t save it on my laptop though so I'll have another go on the main comp. After I have met my quoto for today of course!! lol that’s funny. You are clearly an avid fan of SP. My favourite character is Cartman. Gotta love him.

    Hey Calistro - No worries, I really have to thank you. I know I've said it a bunch of times but I really don’t think I'd have been where I am today if I hadn't found your blog. THANK YOU!! (and thanks for visiting my blog during your break I really appreciate that) :)

    Hey Gorilla Bananas - thanks for visiting, I'll be sure to check your blog out right after this message. Of course that is always a helpful tip and I'll be sure to add it. Although, any writer worth their salt should be able to make the less compelling things sound interesting. Take the late John Diamond for instance; he made the mundane hospital waiting room something interesting to write about. He was an amazing writer. He was the reason I became one in the first place. Everything is compelling - it just depends on the individual person and how they choose to see it - and write about it of course :)

  9. Very good tips - writing a blog is really good practice. It's also my biggest distraction!

    I've never used Y-writer although I did download it ages ago - must try it again for editing :o)

  10. Thanks karen - I'm sure you have a fair few of your own too. Yes, it distracts me too but wouldnt have it any other way. I'd recommend it definately, its funny because this time last year I'd never even heard of it let alone knew how it worked.