As part of my recent Residency, I was asked to provide a list of 10 writing tips, to be reproduced in the Centre’s newsletter.
What the hey: here they are, for you to argue over.
- Know what you want to achieve from each session: it’s easier to get words down if you know where you want your story to go.
- Set reasonable targets: don’t try to achieve something that puts you under pressure before you start. Better to set a moderate target and exceed it, than otherwise.
- Be disciplined: writing time can be minimal. When you have it, don’t get distracted by other things. When it’s time to write, write and only write.
- Be regular: you don’t have to write every day, but try to set aside time on a regular basis. 500 words, once a week is better than zero words every day.
- Embrace your weird: nobody thinks like you do. If your narrative starts to deviate, take a chance on your instincts and follow it. You might be tapping into that voice that is uniquely yours.
- Tell your story first: turn off your internal editor until the first draft is done. Only edit once you have the narrative written. Never start editing until the story is told.
- Forget the marketplace: don’t worry about where the story could be sold until it is complete. There will always be a market, but there’s never been one for unfinished stories.
- Ignore your surroundings: if you want to complete stories, train yourself to ignore everything around you while you are working. Whether it is the laundry, your spouse, or a cocktail by the beach, they can all wait until you’re finished your session.
- There is no perfect environment: the world is too busy, noisy, and fast-paced to wait until you have the perfect combination of circumstances in which to create. Learn to work while surrounded by noise; while on public transport; on a variety of recording media… whatever it takes to get words down wherever you are, whenever you’re there.
- Ignore your muse: the world does not care if you are a precious, fragile creative soul. The world cares only for your completed stories. Be a professional, working artist: fly if you can, grind them out if you have to, but accept that your words are the only currency that counts.