No magic formulas or quick solutions, just some thoughts on writing. I used to feel terribly presumptuous for having this page, but people do tend to ask writers ‘what advice do you have…’ all the time, and honestly, most of it is the boring stuff like ‘actually sit down and write instead of just talking about it’. Anyway. Here we go.
Actually sit down and write instead of just talking about it. See?
Spelling, grammar, and punctuation do matter. Really. Yes, really. Spellcheck is not the answer. (This doesn’t mean you need to worry about these things all the way through – but do keep ‘em in mind when you get to the stage of sharing your work with others.)
Sometimes writing is hard work. Painful but true. Sometimes, a lot of the time, it’s amazing. But sometimes – especially when you’re working on a longer piece of work, or if you’re revising something – it’s the sort of thing you keep putting off. Like everything else, it’s something you need to stick to, even when it’s not going perfectly.
Read. Reading is how you learn how good writing works, and why bad writing doesn’t. Plus, it’s fun. I don’t understand people who don’t read but want to write – if you like words so much, why is it only your own that fascinate you?
Set regular goals for yourself. For most people, writing frequently works better than writing infrequently, even if they’re getting a lot done in short bursts. Setting goals for yourself – a few hundred words a day, a thousand words a week, a month, whatever it might be – means that you’re more likely to actually write instead of letting life or a lack of inspiration get in the way.
Try outlining. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think for longer pieces it’s important to figure out what kind of outlining works for you – the messy notes-all-over-the-place style, or the super-organised spreadsheet-heavy way of going about things, or the make-everything-up-as-you-go-along method.
Take notes. If you haven’t jotted down something, you are 99% likely to forget it. If it isn’t there, you can’t decide later whether or not it’s worth using.
(And someday I intend to buy myself a Proper Writerish Notebook. Really.) Update: I now own a Writerish Notebook. Only took me ten years.
Write because you want to. And what you want to. Yes, writing is sometimes hard work, but if it’s incredibly painful for you 100% of the time and you’d rather have something written than actually write… well.
It’s not the final draft. It’s okay if it’s not perfect the first time around. And if it is perfect the first time around, 99.999% of writers in the universe will want to strangle you with their bare hands.
42.6% of statistics used in this page were made up on the spot.
More thoughts can be found in blog posts categorised under ‘that writing thing’. A list of useful resources can be found in Resources for Writers. And here are some of my favourite quotes about writing.