This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Sally O'Reilly is the author of two contemporary novels and this week it's the publication of her first historical novel, Dark Aemilia. Dark Aemilia is a re-imagining of the life of Aemilia Lanyer, the 'Dark Lady' of Shakespeare's Sonnets and England's first professional female poet. Today, Sally has popped over to give us her top five writing tips.
1. Write first. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning – you may need caffeine/a shower/absence of kids before you start. But if you can manage to write while your head is clear and the demands of Actual Life have closed in, you will a. feel better and b. write better. Get the notebook out asap – the washing up can wait.
2. Be old school. I did say notebook, and I did not mean Netbook. No matter how much you love your keyboard, it pays to write by hand at least some of the time. Humans have been making the brain-to-pen link for thousands of years (roughly speaking) and this makes for organic, immediate, natural writing. The trouble with seeing your drafts on a screen is that they look finished. They aren’t. Scrawled drafts are a reminder that everything can be changed, and that each draft is part of a gradual process of discovery.
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3. Embrace imperfection. Ernest Hemingway said: ‘Everything in the first draft is shit’ and it is. And so it should be. If drafts are pouring out of you fully formed, then you aren’t accessing that troubled, incoherent inner self who can tell you the best stories. Don’t fret over a first draft – redraft it.4. Write what you don’t know. You’ll hear plenty of advice to ‘write what you know’, but in my view, you will do this anyway, if you write honestly and often enough. We are all our own material. But if you take the trouble to find out about other lives/times/experiences, you will have access to a multitude of new ideas and inspirations. Researching a story will give you fresh ideas as well as grounding your invention in reality and authenticity.
5. Change your daily habits. Every day, try and do something different or unusual. It’s so easy to get stuck in a daily rut, and being stale is the enemy of creativity. Go for a walk, see a film alone, watch the sunrise, listen to music you have never heard before, sit in a darkened room and try to think of nothing at all. Whatever. You might be surprised by the difference an incremental change can make.