I have been trying to shift my priorities of late. I write non-fiction for my day job – journalism, travel pieces and so on – but have always wanted to write fiction. This is Nanowrimo month after all. So far I have written some short stories but that has been all (look up and right and add to basket). I have recently been writing a lot more fiction and it has been a lot of fun. I highly recommend it, it is good for the brain. This website actually started as a kind of catharsis to unwind after writing about marketing trends and area guides and having to abide by ‘house style rules’.
A couple of things have really spurred me on of late. Maybe these will help someone struggling while trying to write their own magnum opus. This isn’t exactly a ‘writing tips’ kind of article, it is more of a blog entry from a personal point of view. I have noticed a couple of themes that appear in every writing tips article however and they are definitely true. If you are attempting Nanowrimo or want to try out writing a book, this might help a little.
Read a lot. I used to read at least a book a week. This was before Netflix and billions of channels. I then went down to a book or two a month. Recently, however, I have cut back on TV and social media and have set aside time to read. (Apologies for the irony if you linked to this through social media.) It has been superb. Inspiring even. The more I read, the more I want to write fiction. I cannot recommend reading a ridiculous amount even if it sounds a bit counter-intuitive timewise.
Write every day. I do this anyway as I need to eat and buy beer. Even so, writing stuff for work is different from writing what you want. As I said earlier, I started my websites as a way to unwind. I also write a journal which is quite fun (I use the ‘Day One’ app if you fancy it) which limbers up my noggin and helps me get started in the morning. I have recently been writing 500 words of fiction a day and it has been a great target that seems easier to hit the longer I do it. I am thinking of upping it to 1000 a day. Stephen King does 2000 a day which is damned admirable but a while away yet.
Write purely for yourself. This advice really, really helped me. When I write normally, it is with immediate readership in mind, so when I tried fiction, I initially started to doubt if it was good enough. But both writers that I mention below point out that the first draft should be purely for you alone. Edits will follow, so just write for fun.
Read these two things on writing tips. Stephen King On Writing is a great book with a ton of great advice. If you have a short attention span (which doesn’t bode well for your career) or need some more succinct tips for short-term inspiration then Hugh Howey has a four-page guide. The first page can be found here and the rest are linked to from there.
I only thought about writing this post because I have a few friends and acquaintances who try the Nanowrimo thing every year and fail. It is possible that this is the same reason Hugh Howey’s article got in my news feed the other day. Frankly, the world always needs more books and if this helps even a minuscule amount, then I can feel good about myself.