Tag Archives: writing advice

going away and writing – does it work?

Mostly yes. The way I think about it is: If I had been here at home struggling with my manuscript, I would have gotten much, much less done.

Four days without internet was seriously pushing the boundaries…urg. Still, it takes away one enormous tool of the devil/procrastination. Unfortunately for my fellow writers, there’s a part of my brain that requires distraction whilst I write, and having no internet I took it out on them.

2-hour break for Jane Eyre, anyone?

Such a brilliant adaptation. And speaking of adaptations, am ridiculously excited about the 2011 film. Michael Fassbender as Rochester? Jamie Bell as St John?

Excuse me while I go scream into a pillow.


Where was I?

(This may give you more of an insight into how distracting I was to my fellow-writers than I intended…)

Halfway through my novel crisis, I remembered that I have a world-class mentor. After a seven minute phone conversation with Valerie/fairy godmother, in which she was as gracious and generous as ever, I had a solution.

My problem was trying to place my re-invented heroine into an existing scene, and get across where she’s at. “Why don’t you have her do something that shows us how she’s feeling?” Valerie asked.

“Oh,” I replied, things lighting up in my sluggish brain. “I just have them all sitting around, thinking.”

It’s Show Don’t Tell 101, but sometimes you just don’t have the distance to see it for yourself.

Another favourite thing from the retreat/junket/holiday (closely followed by dinner on a glad-wrapped table to save washing up):

write. out. loud.

I’ve been reading the insider’s guide to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Yes, it’s completely daggy. But that’s just how this series is – once you’ve read all the books there are to read you’ll take any way back into the world you can.

(There’s a hilarious review of Dark Lover here. What I love most about it is the self-conscious comments from readers who just can’t help themselves.)

There’s a section in the guide that’s J. R. Ward’s advice to writers. She says a couple of things which really got me.

1. Writing and getting published are two very distinct things. Being published and having people buy your book are not the only things that validate you as a writer. If you write, you are an author.

2. Do the best you can do now. This bit of advice is great, huh? Ward gives a really warm, funny account of when it was first passed on to her. I think you know when you’re pushing your own boundaries and it’s relaxing to think that that’s enough.

3. And the one that spoke to me most: Write out loud. By this she means – push your ideas as far as they go. Write what’s in your head without concession to readership/market/internal censor or inhibitions. You can edit it back later.

This last piece of advice is also what I think has made her series so stratospherically successful. Her characters are big, cheesy and far too much. But they are so unrestrained, so true to themselves, that you fall right in with them.