Needing a little nudge in the right direction? We've rounded up what we think are ten of the best writing tips and quotes from the masters of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry to give us all a little push.
1. We've talked so much about the reader, but you can't forget the opening line is important for the writer, too. To the person who's actually boots-on-the-ground. Because it's not just the reader's way in, it's the writer's way in, also, and you've got to find a doorway that fits us both.
2. If you're only going to write when you're inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you will never be a novelist - because you're going to have to make your word count today, and those words aren't going to wait for you, whether you're inspired or not. So you have to write when you're not inspired ... and the weird thing is that six months later, or a year later, you're going to look back and you're not going to remember which scenes you wrote when you were inspired and which scenes you wrote because they had to be written.
3. Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.
4. The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you being excusing yourself.
5. Like a pianist runs her fingers over the keys, I'll search my mind for what to say. Now, the poem may want you to write it. And then sometimes you see a situation and think, "I'd like to write about that." Those are two different ways of being approached by a poem, or approaching a poem.
6. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is getting a hearing.
7. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.
8. I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I just keep it simple: Tell the damned story.
9. And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
10. Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.
Happy New Year!
If you're at all like me, you're feeling pretty damn good about this dumpster fire of a year coming to an end. That's not to say 2017 will necessarily be excellent (thanks, America), but we can at least plot out a literary journey that will distract us from the real world. In that spirit, I present to you my own 2017 reading challenge. I've chosen 24 challenges, a book every 2 weeks or so, and welcome anyone and everyone to join me. Feel free to comment on this post throughout the year to let us know what books you've chosen and how they went down.
1. A family member's favourite book
2. A poetry collection
3. A book with supernatural characters
4. A book by an author you've always thought overrated
5. A classic sci-fi or fantasy novel
6. A book by a female author, written before 1980
7. A book that's been translated into English (or your primary language)
8. Something old (A book that came out before 1917)
9. Something new (A book that came out after 2015)
10. Something borrowed (Have a friend lend you a book of their choosing)
11. Something blue (Choose a book with a blue cover - booksellers will love you, I promise)
12. A psychological thriller
13. A non-fiction book on a topic you don't know much about
14. A book with more than one author
15. A play
16. A book you read in school
17. A classic novel you've never read
18. Judge a book by its cover! (A book you chose by the cover alone)
19. A book written by someone of a different race/culture
20. A biography/autobigraphy
21. A book in which the main character is a warrior
22. A book centred around a crime
23. A book with food or alcohol in the title
24. A book recommended to you by Goodreads or Amazon