This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
1. Some of the hardest things for many writers is the dreaded blank screen or sheet of paper combined with a self-sabotaging sense of unworthiness. One of the best aids for either or both of these issues is Julia Cameron’s book The Artist's Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self. This book tells you nothing about how to create characters or write page-turning plots but is wonderful at instilling the habit of writing and illuminating (and exterminating) all those critical little devils that sit inside your head and stop you writing.
2. Write every day if at all possible. Keep a pen and notebook (or tablet or smart phone) within reach so that you can write down ideas, phrases, titles, sensations and descriptions whenever these occur.
3. If you read a particularly affecting passage or chapter in a novel try to analyse just how the writer has achieved it. Look at how the writers you admire vary sentence length; study the nuts and bolts of dialogue, of physical description – everything in short. In other words try to be an active reader.
4. Read your work aloud to yourself. It is by far the surest way to pick up typos (those naughty repeated words and misspellings) and to really listen for the flow of a sentence. Clunkiness on the page is often invisible but in the ear it’s wincingly obvious.5. Beware of the oft given advice to ‘write what you know’ – it might make sense to a small extent, but it could be seen as limiting – what does Hilary Mantel personally know of Tudor England, of being a man or of kings? What did Philip K Dick know of other worlds? Research and imagination set the writer free.
Significance by Jo Mazelis is out now.