I recently received an email from a writer who’s just starting out, and they wanted to know if I could give them any advice. It’s the first time anyone has asked me for writing advice, and I was very flattered.
Since my first full-length work isn’t quite finished, I wasn’t sure how much advice I could offer. Then I thought back on what I’ve found the most difficult thing about writing and what’s helped me.
In my experience, writing a novel is hard. It’s hard, not because of the technical aspects of it, but because of all of the self-doubts that crop up along the way. You’ll probably find yourself thinking things like ‘I’m a cruddy writer’, ’this book is stupid’ and ‘I’m never, ever going to finish’, the sorts of things that totally discouraging you from writing. That’s why you need to be persistent, to keep writing despite the self-doubts, and stubborn, for when persistence fails you. Continue reading →
When I started writing for more than just the amusement it provides, I scoured the internet for tips and tricks from established writers, unconsciously searching for a magic bullet (pill, sock, cat or milkshake) to write my book for me. Unfortunately there isn’t one, and what’s more writing a novel (which is a gzillion times longer than a tweet) requires discipline, planning and months, if not years or decades, of your life. Plus you don’t get paid for it.
But while I didn’t find the magic bullet (pill, sock, cat or milkshake) I did find some good advice1, some of which has informed the way I write now.
After more than two years of trail, error and some fruitless Googling, here’s what works for me and a few tips that might work for you.
I picked up a book in Kmart (my favourite place for cheap-ish, popular books) called the The Way of Kings. At 1000 pages it’s a monster, and it started me wondering what the author’s (Brandon Sanderson) writing habits were.
Brandon Sanderson, most famous (in my mind at least) for completing the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan’s death, spent a year and a half doing 14 hour days, 6 days a week1 to complete not just The Way of Kings but also Towers of Midnight, another monster2.
My mind just goes “wow”, and then I start to think about my writing habits. They aren’t great, certainly nothing like the full time job (and then some) that Sanderson committed himself to, and I think it’s time I pull up my writerly socks. I can’t put in the hours like Sanderson (what with the need to pay bills and all) but I can make a start.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I am committing myself to writing every Saturday morning in a local cafe (because home offers too many distractions). If I can do it for 4 weeks in a row I’m going to give myself a prize, only question is what’s the prize going to be?