Top Five Tips for Beginning Writers

I am so thrilled to have been asked to be involved in the Sadiporticoe Massey Awards organised by the team at the Portico Library in the heart of Manchester.

(If you’ve never been, go. It’s seriously stunning. Weird, fascinating, quirky…a place to set your imagination reeling.) The Awards celebrate creative writing and book reviewing for Key Stage 3, 4, and 5 students with prizes including author schools visits and publication for the winners.  So, what advice would I give to people wishing to enter?

  1. Read. Read anything and everything. You need to get a feel for how stories work. Look in particular at the way writers structure their work because creating sentences is a doddle; weaving them together so the reader wants to keep turning the pages, now that’s the tricky part.

  2. Have a notebook in your bag. Jot down interesting things you hear, see, all those random plot fragments that pop into your head when you’re sitting on the bus.

  3. And on the subject of buses….stare out of windows when you can. Zone out. Let your mind go for a wander. It’s often when you’re not actively looking for them that ideas leap into your subconscious.

  4. Write a bit every day. Life is packed with tasks and obligations and sometimes it can feel like writing is a bit of an indulgence. When your to-do list could wallpaper your room, squeezing in time for creativity is difficult. Aim for one sentence. If you can’t manage any more, at least you’ve hit your target. But very often, you’ll find one sentence leads to another.

  5. Don’t get hung up on making it perfect…at least at first. The important part is to finish. If you spend days polishing up your opening sentence, you’ll run out of steam. Write the whole story down in as few sessions as possible. Make sure you’ve got a beginning, middle and end before you go back and start tinkering.

Finally, once you’ve caught your whirling thoughts and pinned them to the page, ask someone whose opinion you trust to read and give you kind, honest, constructive feedback.

And most importantly, have fun!