This is the latest installment of the blog hop for writers, a day late. Everything is going to be a bit all over the place for a while and writing is just sort of out the window because my main machine is tethered in the room with the wasps and I can’t leave the cat in there without giving him all my attention because he tried to eat the last one he found and that’s how we lost a cat when I was about 10, so no.
So, advice to beginner writers. Number 1: make sure that you’re not going to be cut off from writing by any unforseen circumstances. I can still write, but it is currently a lesser priority than OMG THERES’S WASPS IN MY BEDROOM.
Really, there are only two pieces of advice to give to a new writer, and they are:
Simple as that, but also as complicated as that. You have to read what you write and write what you read, as well as writing for other people and reading other people. Seek feedback and do anything it takes to work out what it means – I was once reduced to tears by my inability to understand what I was doing wrong with dialogue punctuation. Some kind person explained it to me, and now I get it right. Eventually. It takes a couple of edits to correct them all.
Buy notebooks, collect as many free post-it pads and pens as you can, experiment with colours, places, paper sizes and bindings until you know what works for you. I like spiral bound A4 notebooks, but actually prefer using refill pads that I can then organise into folders. Give me a casebound or soft cover journal and it will sit on my bookshelf untouched, unsullied by my terrible handwriting. I can’t easily write on anything smaller than A4, and I like to plan on A3 or bigger. Plain wrapping paper – like you’d get for protecting glasses and the like – is great for that.
Write every day, unless that leaves you wanting to put down your pen and never pick it up at the end of the week. Take yourself out of the house to the bandstand in the rain, or the coffee shop, or somewhere else if neither of those works for you. Drag yourself out of bed half an hour early and spew half-awake words with your morning coffee, curl up in an armchair for a quiet hour in an afternoon, or sprint madly towards your bedline (the latest possible time you can go to bed and still function the following day). Do all of the above, but not on the same day, and see which works best.
There are three rules of writing, but no one knows what they are. Find your own rules, and more than anything else, have fun.