I am currently mentoring a year ten student – let’s call her Miss C – and it’s a really enriching experience. I hope it is for her, too.
I found myself giving her a list of writerly advice, and I think I would probably do well to heed my own words.
I thought I would list my top 5 tips from a practicing writer to a beginner and then remember that they really apply to everyone who is undertaking creative practice. No matter how good you get and how experienced you become, it’s always helpful to stop and unpack what you are doing.
- Make plans. I found myself confiding to Miss C that in fact I wish someone had sat me down and taught me to plan writing when I was 15. Because that’s the bit you don’t see when you consume a book.
- Work towards an endpoint. Dream up where your story might go and take it towards that; in all likelihood you will change your mind, revise and edit, but in the meantime go to that point you can see on the horizon. (This does relate to planning, see step one…)
- Collaborate. The writing life can get a bit lonesome, so if you are ever offered the opportunity collaborate your heart out. Humans are social beings (even if writers sometimes forget this) and collaboration makes for new and interesting points of reference for your work.
- Keep your reader in the back of your mind – but don’t let them get behind the wheel too much.
- Be focussed – perhaps you could call it obsessive – but it’s important to stay with your writing though the tough times. Days of despair, keep writing. Days of dreadful anxiety, keep writing. Stay there and it will pass. After that you will have words on the page.
Note to self: revisit this page regularly.