Top Five Writing Tips | National Writing Day
Get someone to read your work when you think you’re finished
When you think you’re finished get someone else to read your work. I’m not talking about asking your best friend to read all 300+ pages of your manuscript, but the opening chapter or the end scene. We tend to judge writing like we judge people: within the first 30 seconds. If after thirty seconds, or when they finish the sample written they want more then give it to them. If not, ask them what their critiques are. Remember all feedback is relative and not personal.
Always leave your work alone for a few weeks before you send it out
This is a mistake I learned the hard way! When you think a project is finished and ready to send out to publishers, agents, magazines, leave it alone for at least two weeks. Don’t look at it or edit it, in fact, try not to think about it.
After the two weeks, or more, are up then re-read your work. You’ll spot mistakes, changes, and opportunities that you didn’t see beforehand I guarantee you. Then do it again. But this time leave it just a week and see what you find. When you leave it for a week and you find that you can’t find any obvious mistakes, that’s when you know it is ready to send out.
Start the next chapter before you finish writing for the day
When you start to feel yourself coming to the end of your writing day, don’t leave your writing on a perfectly neat full-stop at the end of the chapter. You’ll come back to your work-in-progress the next time and be faced with a glaring blank screen and have to find the motivation all over again.
Instead, start writing the first few sentences of the next chapter, with enough of a hook to remind yourself what your intention is. That way when you come to start writing again you won’t have to remind yourself of what happened before, who’s speaking, what’s next, and what you’re trying to show the reader. It will already have begun. It’s a bit like someone casting off for you when you start knitting a jumper – it’s a lot easier to just get on with it when someone has begun it for you!
Clean your house before you start writing
Procrastination is a major writer’s vice. For me, the only way to combat it is to start the day by cleaning up my surroundings. This may mean hoovering, doing the washing, dusting my desk or reorganizing my bookshelf. If I have a job that needs doing around the house you bet that that will distract me from getting my writing done.
As such, do all of the jobs – usually, they don’t take more than 10 minutes each – before you start writing, and that way you won’t lose your groove halfway through because you need to empty the bins or descale your shower. Any excuse.
Have your favourite snacks and drinks on standby
And finally, have your favourite drinks and snack available! For me, this means a cup of coffee and some biscuits. Or sometimes a really large packet of crisps. Just something I can nibble and drink on without needing to get up to go to the kitchen every half an hour and get distracted by XYZ.
There we go. My top five writing tips in honour of National Writing Day. I hope you find them helpful and you can get to work with your WIP with ease.
If you have any questions or tips of your own, pop them in the comments box below!