Writing with any level of commitment is not for the faint-hearted. You have to learn to balance emotion with reason, and head with heart. To get off to the best start, we would advise trying to…
- Try to imagine you are the reader, and think about parts you would be inclined to skip, scan over, or flick through. These are probably long sections of descriptive prose, which don’t really add much to the story. In your own writing, cut these bits out – or at least rewrite and shorten them. Offending sections can often be found at the very beginning of a book, so double-check whether your opening paragraph is strictly necessary. If it isn’t adding anything, and just constitutes preamble, cut it out.
- Try keeping a diary or journal. This will encourage you to keep writing on those days when you don’t really feel like it, and to make sense of the various bits of fluff floating around in your head. If you can make sense of said fluff then you may be surprised of the outcome and its impact on your ‘proper’ writing. Just try to write a bit every day, if you possibly can – even just a line or two will keep things moving. As Geoff Dyer says, ‘Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct.’
- Read. It sounds obvious, but many a writer has claimed to be too busy to read. In order to imagine you are the reader, and to become a better writer, you must read. Read as widely as you can, but try to read high quality texts. PD James said that bad writing is contagious, and it certainly can be.
More advice to come next week, with tips on Writing Discipline.