some things i’ve learnt about writing so far (which may or may not be helpful to you)

1.     Write what you want to write. (Seriously. The world doesn't need books written by people who didn't want to write them.) 

2.     If you don’t know what you want to write, try finding an intersection between: what matters to you + what frightens you + what you find beautiful.

3.     Read books that are worth paper cutting your fingers for. Read everything. And read for pleasure—not just to analyse books.

4.     Find one song that will always bring you back, instantly, to the world of your book. Use it when you’re feeling stuck.

5.     Do an activity that gets you out of your head and into your body: driving, walking, yoga, crochet, whatever. Give your brain time to figure things out.

6.     Find what works for you. You might love to outline in detail, or you might not. You might need to fast draft a project, or you might need to write slowly, polishing as you go. There are no rules.

7.     I need to reiterate this: there are no rules.

8.     Try to do the unexpected. One of the ways I try to do this is by going the opposite way. Take your instinct and flip it on its head. If you’re trying to figure out what should happen in a scene, don’t just go with the first thing you think of. Write a list of 50 possibilities and choose the most unlikely one.

9.     Learn how to format correctly. (It makes a big difference when you’re submitting work.)

10.  Read every word aloud.

11.  Read from the end to the beginning when you’re polishing—it helps to prevent your brain from filling in the gaps.

12.  If you don’t know where to start with a character, try asking yourself what they want. Then ask: why can’t they have what they want? Then ask: what will they do to get it?

13.  Don’t worry about your relatives reading your writing.

14.  Don’t talk too much about the book you’re writing. Channel the energy you would use talking into putting the words down on the page.

15.  Yes, it’s as hard for everyone as it is for you. This isn’t an excuse to give up. Keep going.

16.  Keep. Going.

17.  Pay attention to criticism, but also pay attention to what readers think you’re doing right. (If no one’s telling you what you’re doing right, ask.) 

18.  You probably won’t know what the story is about until you write the whole thing.

19.  Sometimes switching to writing in a notebook, or changing the room you’re writing in—or even sitting on the opposite side of your desk—can help you to see a story/scene differently.

20.  The weirder the idea, the better. (Don't worry about being "too weird.")

21.  Find your Best Time to Write and arrive there regularly.

22.  Repetition can be a good thing.

23.  Experimentation = failure. Creativity = experimentation. Aim to fail interestingly.

24.  Your greatest dreams can come true if you show up to the truth of yourself, everyday, and don’t give up.

25.  Too many voices = no voice. (Don’t listen to everyone. Or: listen, but make your own choices about where your story should go after listening. You can’t please everyone.)

26.  Be polite and professional when you query. Say thank you. Try to avoid typos.

27.  Your villain is the hero of her own story.

28.  Go for the worst. Get pushed off the ledge of your own story.

29.  Ask for help.

30.  Don’t start writing a story before you’ve listened to the voice of that story. (Can you hear it?)

31.  Sometimes you are not ready.

32.  Begin and end each chapter with an irreparable disaster.

33.  It helps to give your character a longing that is satisfied only by something that complicates their life immeasurably.

34.  A plot is just an opposition of wants.

35.  The language will take you there. Which is to say: sometimes you can’t plan where the story will go until you are actually writing it. Sometimes the voice of a character holds the map to your plot. If you're anything like me, the language will take you there. Wade into it.