Tips and tricks

Every so often I’ll get an instructional book on creative writing out of the library, or I’ll look at some supposedly inspirational website for writers, looking, I suppose, for the holy grail, the essential rule for writing something publishable. We all do it (I hope – please tell me it’s not just me), whether it’s an unrealistic desire to find that shortcut, or just a feeling that there’s room for improvement. There’s plenty of advice out there, and very little of it from anyone I’ve heard of (Stephen King being the notable exception), but if you try enough writing exercises and ways of approaching the craft, you’ll find a few things that work for you and it’ll all have been worth it.

Often we’re encouraged to sit down and write at a set time each day, even if only for ten minutes, then the habit will form, the mind (and typing-finger) will loosen up and reams of output will follow, some of it possibly worth reading. I’d love my life to be organised enough that I could do anything at a set time each day: I don’t always manage breakfast until I’m at my desk, the vagaries of buses mean I rarely arrive at work (or home) the same time on consecutive days, lunch starts sometime between 12.20 and 1pm, and I go to bed about half an hour after I mean to. I try and build routines into my life so I get things done, and I’ll manage for a while then I’ll skip a day or two because something unusual’s happening, and before I realise, three weeks have passed and I’ve forgotten what routine it is I’m not following. Other people manage this no problem, I’m sure, so maybe I should try harder. Every lunchtime at work I’ll spend ten minutes writing about whatever comes to mind; just as long as the world needs three dozen stories about cheese sandwiches.

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