Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Advice for new writers

Yet again, I'm here with an apology for not blogging more often...

Things have been busy, and at the moment I'm ferreting away at my short stories, trying to get them all to behave themselves. Soon, I'll have enough for a collection. And after that, I'll go on holiday.

A couple of weeks ago, I taught a short story writing class. I was asked what advice I'd give to young people who want to become writers. I will share the advice I gave then, again on here. And just for the record, this advice applies whatever age you are.

It's really pretty simple. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Some people manage to make a living from writing, usually by taking on paid commissions, some people don't. (I'm the second type: I support my writing with a day job.) Either way, the answer is still the same. If you want to be a writer, you have to write!

So my advice to anybody who wants to write is, find a way to do it. Try to get yourself into a position where you can work compressed hours, or part time, so that you have a day or two a week that you can devote to writing. If you can't work as few hours as you'd like, maybe devote a day at the weekend to writing, too. It might mean that you have to give up other things, like doing fun things with your friends, or spending time with your family. This choice is not a fun one to make, but unless you're in the luxurious position of not having to earn money, and having the freedom to write full time, sometimes you have to make sacrifices in other areas. Also, it will help a lot if your other half is supportive. One thing I did a lot when I was starting out, was that I cut down on doing things that were taking up a lot of my time. I stopped doing volunteer work and didn't socialise so much. It was rubbish, and sometimes I slightly resented it, but it also meant that I manage to write a novel, and get it published. So there's that.

On your writing days, make sure you write. Don't make excuses for yourself. If you're on a writing day, and you don't feel like writing, write anyway. Just write one sentence, and then another one. Then another one after that. It won't be long before you've got started, and you'll soon wonder what all the fuss was about when you got up that morning and didn't feel like doing it. Whatever you do, don't go on the internet. Just get to work.

My other big tip (it's no secret) is to keep at it. Writing is horrible sometimes, especially at first. But it gets easier the more you do it. Writing and imagination are both muscles that get stronger with use. Cultivate them. Make them do 50+ reps every time you sit down at your desk. Also, try to surround yourself with writer- and artists-friends who are going through the same thing, and who will be able to cheer you on a bit. And keep going!

Good luck!

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Fishnet Kirstin Innes

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