Friday, 17 April 2015

Creative Writing Advice "This next bit's really nice" (April ed.)

Once a month, I will post a few nice things I have seen online about writing.  Mostly for amusement.  Mainly as a scrapbook.  This idea was taken from Channel 4's The Book Group (well worth a watch) Kenny reads out Jack Kerouac's writing advice at the book group for On the Road.  As always, here is the picture meme for the monthly meme:

Character reading a book, saying "This next bit's really nice."

Let the madness begin!

The Writers Helper Q&A

A: Make them real. Give them likes, dislikes. A background, a future. Desires, goals. Friends!

Matt Haig:

7. A first draft is the beginning of the end.  But the end lasts for ever.

8. It isn't the words you choose to use.  It's the words you choose not to use.

10. Raise your effort.  Lower your expectations.

13. Write as though your mother will never read it.

14. Forget about what you want the book to achieve.  Think about what you want the words to achieve.

18. Jeanette Winterson once told me to change the phrase 'epiphanic moment' to 'moment of epiphany'.  That is the single greatest piece of advice anyone has ever given me.

19. Write the book you most want to read.  That will be the best book you can write.
Source: The Book Trust.
4. Never ask a publisher or agent what they are looking for.  The best ones, if they are honest, don’t have a f*ing clue, because the best books are the ones that seemingly come from nowhere. 
7. Ignore the f*ing snobs.  Write that space zombie sex opera.  Just give it some fucking soul. 
9. Don’t be the next Stephen King or the next Zadie Smith or the next Neil Gaiman or the next Jonathan Safran f*ing Foer.  Be the next f*ing you.
Source: Matt Haig.
Maya Angelou
"What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, 'Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'" 
Barbara Kingsolver 
"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."

Writing Apps

The Writers Circle have put together a list of free apps that help with writing.   I am trying Ommwriter and Evernote.  Ommwriter doesn't support footnotes/endnotes and doesn't save as a .doc so it is pretty disappointing.  I haven't used Evernote yet, I am still using a mix of my Filofax Clipbook and the Word Notebook Layout.  Have you used any, what do you find helpful for writing?

Neil Gaiman
As always, excellent advice

How is your writing going?  What advice has helped you?  Feel free to share them :-) 

Previous editions:
March 2015


  1. Don't you love Matt Haig? His advice works for all of us, even if we're reviewing books or blogging about our day.

    Neil Gaiman's especially helpful. I used to sit and stare at the computer, trying to work out the perfect sentence in my head. Then I heard this little snippet, and I realized that he's right. Nobody's going to see my first draft. It's okay to just write my thoughts down and make it cohesive (and coherent) later. I started jotting my thoughts about what I was reading in a notebook, and I put those thoughts together in a readable format later.

    Great post!

    1. I never thought about using the advice for reviewing! He is definitely great advice to help stop the worrying.

      That's really great! I'm just starting with a few outlines for various plots at the moment but Neil Gaiman is just so good, and he gives all his advice online so it's free!

      Thank you! Thanks for visiting, have a lovely day :-)

  2. Great summation of tips about creative writing.
    I enjoyed the Nail video clip so much...good commen sense and many favortie movie scenes blended in. I don't consciously write, I just sit and whatever thoughts that come into my head about a book I put on 'paper'. My last thought was this morning.....I enjoy reading Sci-Fi more than Jane Austen. And believe me I have to work hard to read Sci-Fi!

    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you loved the video! I've got it saved on my youtube so I can watch it before I write. It's amazing how you can just write and write and these words appear. Sci-fi has a lot of groundbreaking ideas and new concepts too that can make your head swim, you don't have to be constrained by anything in the novel. Do you have a favourite sci-fi recommendation? Radio 4 are doing a great Ursula Le Guin series (if you can get that in your country?) if you are interested in her! The discussion piece was really good. Thank you lots and lots for visiting again too :-) I hope the weather is sunny at your end! It is very sunny here in Shropshire :-)

    2. I read Cynthia's comments and will start to do just that: write down random thoughts about ( i.e. the book I'm reading) and put them all together in a first draft.
      Strange but the thoughts come to me while I'm deciding to get out of bed in the morning, in the shower and during my morning run! BTW: weather here in The Netherlands is what we have been waiting for all winter...sunny clear skies and a whisper of a breeze.


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