10 Writing Tips by Alice Fitzgerald, author of Her Mother’s Daughter
1. Get your bottom on the chair
Sounds very rudimentary, but sometimes it can be the hardest thing to do. If you have to do a bit of procrastinating, go ahead. But then make sure that you sit down to actually do some writing.
2. Turn off the internet
When you do sit down, don’t check your emails, Twitter, Facebook, search for a recipe to cook tonight. Look at the time and give yourself an allocated slot of writing. It may be half an hour, it may be three hours. Whatever it is, try to stick to it.
3. Have a writing room
Virginia Woolf said it. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Make yourself a beautiful writing room that you love to go in to and close the door of. A sacred space where you can get some work done.
4. If you don’t have a writing room (like me!), don’t fret
Maybe you don’t have the physical space, or maybe the idea of sitting at ‘that table’ fills you with that same dread you had when revising for an exam. If that’s the case, don’t obsess over finding ‘the perfect writing spot’ – that’s just putting another barrier between you and writing. Mix it up. Head to a nice café and sit in the corner with a coffee and cake. Go to the library. Meet with a writer friend and chat for a bit and then do some writing.
5. Join a writer’s group
Surround yourself with like-minded people who want the same things, who enjoy reading and writing, who will be supportive, who will critique your work. Writing can be a solitary, lonely process sometimes, so connect with others who understand. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you may well find a friend or two along the way. And that way you can share your writing woes with those who want to hear them, and let your partner/sibling/friend breathe a little!
6. Find what works for you
Is it deadlines? Set yourself one. Is it planning out your entire novel to the dot of an I and the cross of a T? Do it. Is it writing and seeing where it takes you? Do that. Don’t look for ‘the way’ to do it. Find your own way and keep going. One size doesn’t fit all.
7. Don’t think you can wing it
If you’re not sure if there was cinema in the time your writing is set, check it out. Were there skinny café lattes? Look it up. If you’re not sure, don’t think you can wing it, because you can’t. The reader will notice, and before them, the publisher, and before them…the agent you pitch.
8. Write with a pen
Don’t be too loyal to your laptop. Write with a pen and notebook on the tube on the way to work, in a bar while you’re waiting for someone, during your lunch break with a
sandwich. Don’t think of it as a waste of time because you need to type it up later – that will count as a round of editing.
Read books you hear about, great books, old books, new books. Read books by authors you love, books by authors who do something really well (eg read Roddy Doyle for dialogue), books to relax and just enjoy reading, so you can remember what it’s all about.
10. Get your bottom on the chair
When all is said and done, it’s getting the bottom on the chair and the pen moving that counts.