Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just start writing.

If you know me at all, you would know that I like to write. If you know me very well, you would know that I have always liked to write. So it's no surprise, I suppose, that when I reflect on the things I have been good at in my life, and had a natural easiness and quiet happiness with, writing played a major role.

Who would be crazy enough to want to be a professional writer? Or even semi-professional? The loneliness, the rejections, the poverty....there are many examples of writers expressing their frustration and gloom at being condemned to the fate of a writer.

Most writers I've spoken to say the best tip to being a writer is to just start writing! But I need more. Therefore I've looked to the modern Oracle (the internet!) for some tips to get me off to a successful beginning in my quest to write as a career...

1. Write an hour a day - This comes up so often on writing websites that I'm assuming it works. There's even a writing blog call An Hour A Day. Most people tend to say that the best hour is early in the morning. Some get up an hour before the rest of the household just to have that hour of peace and write whilst the mind is fresh and uncluttered. For me this may mean getting up at 5am and I'm not sure how fresh I feel at that time...

2. Be a good reader  - This comes from which does have a good list of tips although most appear to be for fiction writers, angling at creative writing and character, which is probably not me. I am a reader of all sorts of media, but my question is - what's a good reader?

3. Avoid long sentences - This also comes from and is a problem I have. I need to think like a movie director and learn to yell "Cut!".

4. Do be kind to yourself - Attributed to Roddy Doyle, from The Guardian, the advice continues with: "Fill pages as quickly as possible, double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph." I'm pretty sure Roddy was inferring that one should celebrate every new page with a fresh cup of tea and a little slice of cake or a piece of chocolate as well.

5. RAVEN - which stands for "Remember: Affect - Verb, Effect - Noun" and for which I have my Year 11 and 12 English teacher to thank. A basic one, but which one sees incorrect in professional writing surprisingly often. It's held me in good stead for 20 years.

Equipped with such sage advice, blank page (screen) before me and a few kernels of ideas, bring on the loneliness, the rejection, the poverty! - for don't all writers at least start there?

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