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Craft

Investigating Creative Writing Advice: Write What You Know

‘Write what you know’ is one of those common phrases that gets thrown around Creative Writing classrooms, sometimes without too much explanation of what it actually means.

As a Creative Writing tutor and coach, I’ve always gone into detail with students and clients about what I mean when I say this – and now I’m going to explain it to you!

Some people get confused when faced with this phrase, as they think it limits them to writing about the ‘real world’ or their personal world and experiences only.

However, this is not the case. One can write about a world filled with dragons and monsters and still be writing what they know. I’m not saying that one actually thinks they are in a dragon-filled land (although really, who am I to comment), but rather that writing what you know is not to be taken in such a literal way.

So what does it mean then?

It means that you should draw on your experiences to add value, realism and emotion to your writing. When Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings, he was not drawing on his experience of traversing mountainous lands with an elf beside him. He was drawing on his experience of:

  • Friendship and relationships
  • Storytelling
  • Geography
  • People
  • History
  • Religion

It was this knowledge that helped Tolkien write such an epic fantasy series.

Writing what you know, coupled with imagination, can equal a wondrous creation.

For example, you may be writing about a soldier leaving his family and joining the Second World War.

Now, chances are that you weren’t around during the Second World War, so how can you write what you know when it comes to this? Well, you may have experienced true heartbreak. You may have missed somebody dreadfully. You may know what it is like to do without or to focus on a smaller picture just so you can get through the day.

These are all elements of knowledge and experience that could add real depth to a character’s journey and story.

Writing what you know doesn’t mean you can only write about a thirty-year-old living in the UK. It means you should draw from your life experiences and the emotion that has ever driven you and pour it into your fictional work to create believable tales of depth and beauty.

I hope this blog post has helped you better understand what ‘write what you know’ means and show you how you can introduce it into your writing.

Do you have any creative writing advice you have heard that you would like me to investigate and break down? Let me know here. 

Want to read something similar? Check out the following!

10 Ways to Grow as a Writer

How to Write Subplots in Your Novel

How to Find and Fix Plot Holes

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Craft

Investigating Creative Writing Advice: Show, Don’t Tell.

Here’s a new series of blog posts for you! I am excited to introduce: Investigating Creative Writing Advice. Throughout this series, I will break down all that classic and new Creative Writing advice we hear in both classrooms and online and get to grips with what that means. Through doing this, I hope to help you better understand the world of Creative Writing and choose the advice that suits you as a writer. It isn’t always easy to know which advice to pay attention to, and it is essential to remember that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. For example, I don’t write every day because it doesn’t work for me creatively. Writing and creativity do not have a set of instructions that work for every person, so let’s break down that advice and see what works for you.

Today, we will look at ‘Show, Don’t Tell.’ There’s a classic quote to share here, and that’s the following:

‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ (Anton Chekhov)

So, what does it mean? Essentially, this advice is telling you to paint a picture for your reader, using description and senses. Here’s an example:

Telling:

Sarah was late. 

Showing:

Sarah twisted her hands together, now damp from sweat. She avoided looking at her watch – she didn’t need the reminder; the day was already running away from her. Her t-shirt was still stained from last night’s dinner.

What’s the difference here?

Well, apart from being wordier, we get more of an impression of the character, the situation and the scene. In the original, we don’t learn anything apart from someone called Sarah is late. In the rewrite, we learn that Sarah is nervous, distracted, avoiding the situation and worried. Showing, not telling, is a powerful tool for a writer and gives you the opportunity to create a scene that brings a world to life. You pull the reader in and get them involved in the story.

However, be wary of this advice: there is a place for telling too. 

Telling is a great way to give information to your reader. If all you did was show, your book would be a dense read. So perhaps, instead of saying ‘Show, Don’t Tell’, we should say: Show and tell. Here’s a way to remember when to do what: If there’s a dramatic scenario, a scene you want to bring to life: Show. If there’s some information you need to get across (perhaps your character travels from A to B, and nothing happens during that time), you don’t need to show the reader the entire journey; that would be a waste of word count! Instead, tell them. In the book I am currently reading (The Bewitching by Jill Dawson), there are some fantastic examples of this. Dawson tells us what we need to know to drive the narrative forward, avoiding lengthy divergences into parts of the story that don’t impact the characters.

Want to have a go at writing your own ‘Show, don’t tell’ example? Here’s a prompt to help you. Rewrite:

Sophie was tired.

How can you rewrite this by showing us this? Consider how Sophie’s tiredness impacts how she moves and looks, and describe this to the reader.

So, there’s a breakdown of ‘Show, Don’t Tell.’ Is there a piece of Creative Writing advice you have heard that you want to be broken down? Let me know here! I would love to write a post about it and help you understand how to use it.

Want to read something similar? Check out the following:

5 Things I Wish I Had Known before Writing My First Novel
Why My Writing Routine Won’t Work For You
Reasons Not To Write Every Day

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Craft

5 Tips for Writing Trilogies by Carly Bennett

So you want to write a trilogy. You’ve had a flash of inspiration for a story so vast, so packed full of adventure that it can’t possibly be contained in a single novel. Excellent. Then reality sets in…to tell your story you’re going to have to write not one but three books. Where do you even begin to plot? How are you going to wrangle enough subplots and character arcs and motifs to keep your readers engaged for such a sustained period of time?

Before you decide to consign your trilogy to the dusty graveyard of abandoned ideas in the back of your mind, I’ve got five tips to share that I’ve learned while plotting and writing my own contemporary fantasy trilogy.

1. Develop story arcs on both a book level and a series level:

I thought it was only fitting to start with advice Rachel gave me during The Writing Week Retreat. I wasn’t sure how best to tackle this when plotting my own trilogy – should I plan one act for each book or should each book have its own three-act structure? The answer? Both! You want to ensure your trilogy has an overarching three-act structure but each book should have its own ebbs and flows, with a satisfying ending for the reader.

2. Fall in love with your characters:

Whether your trilogy is plot-driven or character-driven, make sure you’re head over heels for your primary characters. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with them, after all! From compelling backstories to fun personality quirks that might never even make their way into the story itself, spending time getting to know your characters until they feel like old friends is a staple of any fiction project but it’s even more key when writing a series.

3. Give your characters room to grow over the trilogy:

Building on my second point, your readers also need to love your characters enough to follow them on a journey that will likely take place over a number of years. A great way to keep your characters engaging is to give them room to grow and evolve over the entire series, not just the first book.

This is a trap I definitely fell into when writing the first draft of my series – my two protagonists overcame all of their internal obstacles during the climax of book one, leaving them very few lessons to learn throughout the rest of the story. In reality, we never stop growing and learning so neither should our characters.

4. Find your plotting sweet spot:

The long-running debate between plotting and pantsing is never-ending but I think plantsing (the midpoint between the two) is the way to go when writing a trilogy. It’s imperative that you know where your story is going so you won’t run out of steam halfway through book two but I think it’s just as important to leave yourself space to explore new ideas as you write. Writing three books is no easy feat and plotting so intricately that there are no surprises to keep you entertained can make writing a trilogy feel like a slog.

5. Keep something back:

One of the joys of writing a trilogy is having the space to unfurl exciting twists and character developments that you’ve spent many a writing session dreaming up. There can be a real temptation to show your hand too early, pouring so much into book one that the final two books can be left a little dry in comparison. Keeping some cards close to your chest and spreading out those jaw-dropping moments throughout the three books will ensure your readers are entertained from the first page to the last.

I hope you found the above tips helpful and can apply some of what you’ve learned to your work in progress. You’ve got this! I want to give a huge thank you to Rachel for inviting me onto her blog and, if you want to keep up with my own trilogy writing journey, I blog over at www.carlybennettbooks.co.uk.

Categories
Coaching

Self-Care for Writers

Whether you are feeling overwhelmed or not, self-care is essential. As writers, we can feel the drive to continue writing even when tired because our work is not necessarily labelled as a job, it’s something we enjoy, and the completion of our goals usually begins with finishing the first draft. So, even if we work in another profession during the day or feel overwhelmed by world news, we continue to write.

To continue to get the most out of our writing lives, we must show up to the blank page feeling well. Being burned out, experiencing overwhelm, or anything in between can seriously impact our creativity and ability to write words. So, how can we practice self-care as a writer?

First of all, what is self-care? Well, it’s taking care of your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs. This can look like taking a walk daily, asking a friend for support, giving yourself time to meditate, or engaging the services of a coach.

Now that we know that, how can we apply this to our writing lives?

Journaling. 
Keeping a writing journal is a fantastic way to apply self-care to our writing lives. This means taking some time for you and your thoughts and writing your writing process and journey. It’s an act of creative writing in itself and can be inspiring, fulfilling, and can even show you how much progress you have made in your writing life.

Stepping away from the desk. 
Writing is sedentary, and we often sit in front of a blank page for hours. Remember to take a step away from your desk. Taking a deep breath, stretching your limbs, walking around the neighbourhood – all these things will help you feel more relaxing, more inspired, and more open to writing.

Reading.
Reading helps us become better writers in so many ways, but the very act of reading is also incredibly relaxing, as we allow ourselves to slip into other worlds and explore new realms. Remember to read often, even if it’s only five minutes a day. Your writing life will improve because of it.

Engaging in community.
Socialising with other writers is such a fantastic experience. I just ran The Writing Week Retreat, and every single person on it said that the community was one of their favourite things. It gives you the chance to talk through your feelings on your writing, gain feedback on your work, and understand what you excel at. Don’t discount the power of chatting to other writers – it can change your output, keep you accountable, and give you the gift of strengthing your prose.

Speaking to a writing coach. 
It’s rare in life that we have the opportunity to sit and talk to an active listener about what we want to work on and how to move forward. Coaching is powerful because of exactly this – you are given the opportunity to talk, be listened to, and find solutions to your concerns. Coachingcan make you a happier writer and give you the tools you need to take the next step.

Actively working on your mindset. 
Mindset often holds writers back from sharing, creating, and generally being their best creative selves. Working with a coach will help you understand that your thoughts are not fact, banish imposter syndrome, and stop that tricky comparison game. Want to begin? Check out these coaching questions here. 

Viewing yourself with generosity.
How would you speak to another writer? With enthusiasm, joy, excitement about their work, and care. You should talk to yourself in the same way. You are doing an incredible job, writer, and a reader is waiting for you to share your story.

Anything you want to add? Let me know here.

Want to read something similar? Check out the following!

Mindfulness Techniques for Writers
10 Ways to Limit Writing Overwhelm

Categories
Coaching Craft

5 Things I Wish I Had Known before Writing My First Novel

I am now on my fourth novel and recently was asked about my first. Ah, my first novel. Writing that was an adventure. Why? Let’s dig right in, shall we? Here are the things I know now that I wish I had known when I wrote my first novel. 

1) Planning is my superpower.

I didn’t know this when I wrote my first novel. I had always been a pantser, and that was all I knew. Now I know differently – I am actually a plotter. Writing my first novel was a massive challenge for me because I had no idea what was coming next in my story. Now, I know much more about myself. I know that I excel when I have a plan. I know I get more written, my structure is tighter, and I can sit down at my computer after a break and know precisely where I left off. That, for me, is a game-changer. If you’re a pantser, I salute you! It’s a challenge and a half for me to create a plot as I write. We all write differently, and finding out how we write is a huge part of getting the best out of ourselves.

2) The dip is coming – stay on course.

The dreaded dip. What is it? It’s essentially the middle. We begin writing full of ideas and plans and excited for the written word, and then something usually happens after fifty thousand or so words. We hit the dip and lose motivation. How I dealt with this in my first novel was not ideal. I essentially added a new character and plotline, trying to regain some of that magic I felt in the original. Ultimately, I had to remove 50,000 words in the second edit, which took a huge re-write. Now I deal with the dip much better because I expect it – I prep to keep myself motivated and stay on course.

3) A writing routine is essential.

When I wrote the first draft of my first novel, I wrote in fits and starts, bursts and jumps. I responded to deadlines but didn’t feel like I had a writing routine – well, that’s because I didn’t. However, once I investigated my writing time and found a writing routine that worked for me, I wrote twice as much. Life suddenly became much more manageable. Want to create your own writing routine? Read this blog post here!

4) Write what you love – you’re going to read it thousands of times.

Seriously. I read my first novel so often that I was totally fed up with it by the time I finished it. And actually, this relates to point one, too – if I had taken the time to plan my novel, knowing that what worked for me was plotting, I would have had more passion and excitement for what was coming. Instead, I just felt confused. I workshopped it so many times that I fell out of love with it. None of my subsequent novels has been this way. I still love all of them. Why? First of all, because I spent time workshopping the plan and plot before I began writing, leaning into my desire to be a plotter. Secondly, because I chose to write about something that fascinated me, settling into a genre that spoke to my passions. That changed it all, friend. Writing Your Passion is a class I teach in my writing masterclass, It’s Time To Write Your Novel. Learn more here!

5) Self-doubt is normal, but it doesn’t mean your feelings are facts.

I am yet to meet a writer who hadn’t suffered from imposter syndrome at some point in their lives, me included. But, since writing my first novel, I have spent thousands of hours (and pounds) investing in working on my mindset, and it has been enlightening in so many ways. Self-doubt is normal, but it doesn’t mean your feelings are fact. Ready to work on your mindset too? Click here.

So, what do you wish you had known before beginning your first novel? I would love to know, so contact me and tell me!

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Craft

3 Ways to Test a Novel Idea Before Writing

Whether you are a plotter (someone who preps their story ahead of time), a pantser (someone who writes as they create), or a plantser (a mix of the two!), there comes a time when the idea for a novel might pop into your head, and you wonder whether it has the legs to be something you want to write. Well, what do you do in that situation? I’ll tell you – you test your novel idea.

Your first question might not be ‘how’, but rather ‘who with?’ – that’s a great question, by the way. Who do you test your novel idea with? You could do this with yourself (Is this something you would read, is it something you really want to write, is it a novel that interests you further than the initial thought?), or with your ideal reader. If you need a hand working out who your ideal reader is, check out this blog post all about it: Your Ideal Reader

Once you have decided that you would like to test the idea with yourself or your friend who happens to love the genre of novel you’re thinking about, it’s time to think about three ways to test your idea:

1: Write your synopsis ahead of writing the novel. 

Writing a synopsis before writing a novel is a great way to test an idea. It means that you can share what looks like a finished product and really think about how you want it to be once completed. Not sure how to write a synopsis? Read on.

Writing a synopsis is a class that I teach in my Novel Writing Masterclass – It’s Time to Write Your Novel, but I wanted to give you a little freebie here because I know that other people struggle with this area too.

So – let’s break it down together. Here are the steps I recommend for writing a synopsis:

1) Write down plot points in the order of events.

2) Write the first paragraph – set up the premise and write a clear description of the world and scenario you have created.

3) Connect your plot points by describing your character’s growth.

4) Tell us the ending.

5) Re-read for editing.

Ideally, this should be no more than 1000 words.

Follow those steps, and you should find it much easier to write your synopsis!

2: Ask yourself some probing questions. 

Try asking yourself the following four questions if you’re looking for something less in-depth than writing a synopsis. These will help you visualise your plot, deliver it as a complete idea, and communicate what you want your novel to be.   

What is your main character’s problem, the conflict they are dealing with?

What is their drive to overcome this?

Who or what is standing in their way?

Why does it matter? 

3: Write an elevator pitch. 

So, how can you whittle down your novel idea to an elevator pitch? Keep it short, sweet, and understandable. For example:

I have written TITLE, a GENRE novel of WORD COUNT. PROTAGONIST lives in SETTING and faces CONFLICT. How the protagonist overcomes conflict, including the antagonist, but not usually tertiary characters.

Another fun way to challenge yourself is to develop a 140 character pitch as they did for Pitch Wars!

Here’s my 140 character pitch for The Birth of Ida:

𝐓𝐡𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐚 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐰𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐞, 𝐈𝐝𝐚 𝐕𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐝𝐫𝐚𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫’𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡.

So, there are three ways to test your novel idea before writing a word of it! Do you have any to add? Let me know how you get on and don’t forget to get in touch if you need a hand.

Are you looking for a similar read? Check out the following:

3 Things Needed for a Fantastic Book Proposal

5 Things to Avoid When Writing Dialogue 

Categories
Productivity

3 Steps to Your Writing Management Plan

What is a writing management plan? I hear you ask. Well, it’s a way to ensure you have set yourself up in the best possible way, creating an environment that lends itself to writing.

A question I often ask my coaching clients when we have come up with a plan together is:

What could derail this plan?

It’s an interesting question, and it makes my client stop for a moment and consider all of the things that could come along and get in the way of their action plan. So, what then?

Creating a writing management plan is not about writing routines, finding the time to write, and all that good stuff – it’s about ensuring that you have thought ahead to potential distractions and taken action before they derail your writing.

Here are three steps to create your own writing management plan:

1) Ask yourself, what could derail my writing plans this week? What could stop me from getting these words on the page? Write down the answers.

2) Consider what you could put in place to limit these distractions. Perhaps it’s asking for help, prepping a meal, or turning off your phone at a specific time.

3) Your final step is to take action. Put these things into place to ensure that your writing time is managed correctly. What does that mean to you? You might be setting up a writing habit, so you want to ensure that you have your cues and rewards correctly set up. As a reminder – creating a habit is a four-step process that looks like this:

1 – Cue: Giving yourself a cue to begin – this means planning, setting an alert or alarm, and essentially reminding yourself of the habit.
2 – Craving: Imagining the satisfaction of having completed the act. What will you feel like once it’s complete? How awesome will it be to have written 1000 more words of your WIP?
3 – Response: The actual act of writing! Sitting down and cracking on with it.
4 – Reward: Pre-plan some reward or incentive for when you’ve completed the word count. It could be anything – from a cup of tea to a chocolate bar to an hour of your favourite show.

Once you have put your actions in place, you have set yourself up for the best possible start in managing your writing that week. Every time you plan to write ahead of time, consider the three steps above, and you’ll find yourself less distracted, more prepped, and with more words on the page.

Want to know more about creating a management plan that works for you? Coaching could be the answer. Click here to read more about what I offer. 

Want to read something similar? Check out the following!

10 Coaching Questions to Help You With Your Writing Life
Want to get more done? Shrink your writing goals!

 

Categories
Craft

5 Things to Avoid When Writing Setting

Worldbuilding is such an important part of communicating a story to a reader, and writing setting is an essential element. If a reader doesn’t see a world clearly, they won’t understand where the characters are within it and won’t have that vital interest in the novel.

So, when we are writing setting, what should we avoid?

1) Focusing on sight only. 

There are five senses (well, six depending on your outlook), and the reader wants to read about them. It is beautiful to read about how a place looks, but make sure you pull the reader into the story by telling us about the other senses too. We want to know about the cool air on your character’s skin, the scent of bread in the local bakery, the sound of children playing in a far off field, and the taste of autumn in the air.

2) Too much detail.

Your reader is intelligent, so have faith in their vision and ability to imagine the scene before them. Putting in too much detail can be jarring, especially if the detail seems irrelevant to the story. Consider what you can get across to your reader without going overboard with the description. For example, do they need to know about an old chair that doesn’t appear again in the story?

3) Setting information dumps.

Information dumps are a significant amount of text dedicated to filling the reader in. It can pull a reader from a story, so avoid setting the scene with pages and pages of description. The reader will forget that they are reading a story at all.

4) Disconnecting the setting from your characters.

How does your character interact with the world around them? How do they see the world they live in? This can tell us so much. For example, perhaps the steam rising from a chimney makes them think of a dragon. Why would this be the case? Are they a dreamer, an adventurer in a fantasy story? Connect the world with your character and draw your reader in further.

5) Allowing the setting to overtake the story. 

Setting is a vital element of your story, but it is not the most important thing about it. Sometimes, we can get wrapped up in imagining a world we have created, and while it is wonderful to read about that place, make sure that your story is still firmly set within it. The reader wants to know about your tale first and foremost.

Ready to create a world that sparkles? There are many ways I can help. Check out my online writing course, It’s Time to Write Your Novel, here. This course takes you through the journey of writing a novel, including worldbuilding and setting.

Do you want to read something similar?
Check out the following:
3 Ways to Ensure Your Novel is Well Paced
4 Tips for Writing in Multiple Points of View

Categories
Productivity

Want to get more done? Shrink your goals.

So you want to get more done, write a novel, a bestselling book, a work of non-fiction, a book of short stories, a poem. It can feel overwhelming to sit down and just *begin* and while some people seem to have that knack and talent, I am certainly not one of them.

The world is a distracting place. We have to work during the day and have family responsibilities, and our desire to write a novel might be high on our list of dreams, but it isn’t always high on our priorities list. Why? Because the dog needs to be fed, and there’s a weird stain on the ceiling, that’s why.

So, want to know the secret to getting it done? Three words:

Shrink your goals. 

You might be baulking at this because this is the opposite of what you have read. Perhaps it’s even the opposite of what your writing coach has told you: Dream big! Bigger! BIGGER!! But, here’s the thing about big dreams – if you don’t break them down and work out how you’re going to get them done, they remain dreams and don’t become a reality.

I’m not telling you to shrink your goal of writing a bestseller; heck no. You have it within you to write a bestseller, and I don’t doubt it for a minute. What I am saying is: to get there, you have to shrink down that goal into sizeable, manageable chunks and fit them into your daily life.

Here’s how:

1: How long is your novel going to be? The below might help, if you’re unsure of the word count you are aiming for.

Epic: 120,000 – 200,000
Thriller: 70,000 – 90,000
Sci-Fi or fantasy: 90,000  – 120,000
Romance  novels: 50,000 – 100,000
Historical fiction: 80,000 – 100,000
Non-fiction: Depends on genre – best to research your specific area.
YA: 40,000 – 80,000
Middle Grade: 20,000 – 50,000
Novella: 20,000 – 50,000
Novelette: 7,500 – 20,000
Short Story – 1,000 – 7,500
Flash Fiction – 1000 words or less
Drabble – Exactly 100 words
Micro Fiction – 300 words or less

2: How long do you have to write your novel?

3: What is your creative data? (Unsure? Check this blog post out to see.)

4: Work backwards. How much do you need to write a day to get your novel written? How many days do you have available for you? When, therefore, will you be finished?

Shrink those goals into sizeable chunks so that you can move forward with the confidence of a definite bestseller!

You’ve got this writer. 

Looking for a similar read? Check these out:

4 Time Blocking Tips for Writers
How to Set Effective Writing Goals
3 Things I Did to Level Up My Writing Game

Categories
Coaching Craft

10 Ways to Grow as a Writer

Are you looking for a way to grow as a writer but struggling to work out how to do it? Don’t worry; I’ve got you. Growing as a writer means expanding your knowledge of the craft, your ability to find the time to write, and your access to writing. It means getting better at what you do – writing stories. So, let’s begin with ten ways to grow as a writer.

1) Expand your vocabulary.

Great idea. But, aside from eating a dictionary, how can you go about this? Here are a few ways. Develop a reading habit. Reading helps you understand so much about writing, and it is such a vital part of being a writer that it should not be discounted. It grows your vocabulary, yes, and it also helps you understand plot, tropes, characterisation…the list is endless. Another great and fun way to expand your vocabulary is to play word games. I’m talking about Wordle, Scrabble, and more. Games are for adults, too!

2) Use writing prompts.

Every other week I share a new writing prompt with my subscribers. Why? Because they are an excellent lesson in writing. They can inspire poetry, short stories, a paragraph that sparks an entire novel you never knew you had in you. Writing with writing prompts is the practice of growing as a writer and making progress in the craft you love.

3) Share your writing.

Yes, I said it. Sharing your writing will help you grow as a writer. For some, the thought of this is scary. I get it; I’ve been there. When I was in the first year of my undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, I used to sit at my table, dreading the moment I would be called on to read my writing to the class. But, here’s the thing…after a while, it didn’t bother me so much. Why? Two reasons. The first is that practising anything makes it much easier. The second is that my peers were trained to give feedback. That second one is vital. If you are nervous about sharing your work, share it with the right person. Share with another writer, a friend you trust, an editor or a writing coach. Practice sharing because peer review is one of the most valuable tools we have at our disposal as writers.

4) Keep a writing journal. 

What’s a writing journal, and why keep one? A writing journal is like your regular journal or diary, only this one focuses on your writing, including anything you want to talk about, how it’s going, what you are struggling with, and what you have written that day. So why would keeping one help you grow as a writer? Because it enables you to explore your process, what is working for you, and what isn’t. This kind of investigation helps you learn exactly who you are as a writer and pinpoint areas of growth.

5) Hire a writing coach or editor. 

As a writing coach and editor, I can tell you that I have watched all of my clients grow through our work together. It is an incredible thing to witness, and I love helping writers discover what works for them, clear the path forward, and ultimately achieve their dreams of writing their novels. I am trained to ask the right questions to help you find a way forward, and growing as a writer is a worthy investment indeed. I hire a coach too, and it’s the best thing I ever decided to do. Here’s a little on my own experience: The Top 5 Things I Learned from Working with a Coach

6) Join a writing group. 

Writing groups are amazing because they provide us with support and craft knowledge and offer us accountability. You can look online or in your local area and see what’s offered.

7) Take part in a writing retreat. 

Writing retreats are incredible. They are spaces for you to create, write, and learn. They are your community, and they leave you feeling rested, inspired, and truly like the writer you are. Looking for a writing retreat to join? Recently I co-ran a writing retreat called The Writing Week Retreat, and it was a runaway success, with writers writing more in one week than usual, and community-led learning. Want to know more and receive updates about the next one? Get in touch here.

8) Write outside your comfort zone. 

When was the last time you pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone when writing? Not sure? Here’s a task to do that right now!

Take the opening paragraph of your novel or latest work. Re-write it, using none of the same words as your original work.

What does this task do? It forces you to think differently, search for new words, and grow as a writer. Give it a go today, and see which piece of writing you prefer.

9) Subscribe to a writing magazine and participate in competitions. 

There are some fantastic writing magazines available, and they are full of competitions and fun things to be a part of. How does this help you grow? Aside from the craft information shared within these magazines, using writing competitions gives you new ideas, new prompts and instils a routine into your writing life.

10) Revise old writing. 

Want to know how much you have grown as a writer? Read and revise your old work. Highlight what you like, and re-write what you don’t. Pay attention to what has changed, how your eye has developed, and be proud of your growth. Need an editor to help? Feel free to get in touch today and book a free 30-minute Discovery Call with me.

Ready to talk about coaching?

As a Certified Professional Coach, trained by an ICF company and with an ILM Level 2, you can trust that my coaching skills are tried and tested. As a writer with a PhD, MA and BA in Creative Writing, and over six years of lecturing in adult education and at universities, I’m a professional writer specialising in helping others find their way forward. 

Any to add? Let me know! Want to read something similar?

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