Writing Tips

     Last night I went to a writing class at the Central library called "Ten Habits for Successful Writers". It was given by Canadian Mystery author Gail Bowen.

     It was a good class although I can honestly say that there wasn't anything new said that I hadn't heard before. She didn't give us ten actual habits of successful writers, rather she gave lots and lots of tips and help for writers. Later she answered questions from the audience. Although I didn't really learn anything new, it was nice to be there amongst other writers and to get a feeling of rejuvenation. It's like going to church every week and feeling spiritually renewed. This was more like writing-renewed. Here are some of the tips I thought were especially useful or good to remember.

     1) Live a life as varied as possible. This will give you LOTS to write about. (Something for me to keep in mind!)
     2) Keep a notebook with you everywhere you go- then you won't forget things that come to you randomly.
     3) Read constantly. Analyze what you read. What makes a book good? What makes a book not work?
     4) Write every day. (Duh)
     5) Always leave your writing at a good place. That way you'll want to go back to it the next day instead of putting it off for laundry or something.
     6) If you're stuck- step away. Take a break. Go on a walk, eat something, fold some laundry. Then go back to it. Just don't talk on the phone, or go out with someone or anything like that because that won't help.
     7) Write everywhere!
     8) Figure out your elevator pitch (something I'm working on!) which is one sentence, maybe two, of what your book is about and why you're the one to write it.
     9) Revise, revise, revise. And give it some time in between.
     10) Read your book aloud- that will help you to find what's wrong and what doesn't work.
     11) Cut until you can cut no more.
     12) Trust your reader- not everything has to be explained.

      She said that as writers we need to make the reader understand the world we are living in inside our head. We need to find the words and the way to describe it so that they will see what we see. That might seem like, duh to some people, but that's one thing that really hit me. Because I live so much in my own head that I need to make sure my story is coming across on the page as good as it is in my head.
     Anyway, just some thoughts and tips from Gail Bowen. I'm looking forward to meeting with her in a couple of weeks to discuss my first 25 pages. Hopefully she'll be able to give me specific advice for my book. And one last thought...
     A writer's goal is to help readers enjoy life, or endure it.