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Writing Advice

In this section, you will find a collection of blogs dedicated to writing advice. So, if your manuscript is starting to drive you crazy, or you’re not sure how to get started, read on for the push you need to create your masterpiece.

Writer's Block: What Can Cause Those Kinks In The Hose

‘Writer’s block’ is a term that never quite seems to convey the severity of the frustration it brings. ‘Writer’s misery’ however... well, that sounds far more accurate, doesn’t it? What could be more miserable for a writer than struggling to write three words together that you’re convinced even a toddler could write with a crayon in its sticky fist? 

Last year, I was in a bit of a... fog – not quite there, deep in writer’s misery, but a fog, where finding word after word felt like rooting around, shoulder deep, in a tissue-stuffed fairground lucky dip, being grateful for absolutely anything I could get my hands on – and in my desperation, I turned to Google. After a few clicks, I found a rant by Ray Bradbury, and one line jumped out at me immediately: ‘You’re being warned, aren’t you? Your subconscious is saying “I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for.”’
Until that moment, I used to think that …

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Writing dialogue: the voices in my head

Nick Jones

In the very early stages of plotting my ghost story ‘King’s Cross’, I realised what an important part authentic dialogue would have to play. The novel features a diverse collection of characters: nuns, mini-cab drivers, firemen and a feisty Lolita-like teenager named Alice (who has some of the book’s best lines).

Would Alice say: ‘I don’t know.’ Or ‘Dunno.’? Almost certainly the latter. Would a mini-cab driver ask a fare (on being offered a £20 note): ‘Haven’t you got anything smaller?’ or ‘Ain’t yer got nothin’ smaller?’ Probably the latter. Drafting dialogue at one’s computer is all very well, but it can be time-consuming. And though most writers carry a notebook in order to scribble down their thoughts, trying to jot down a bon mot, when you’re driving the kids to school, can be dangerous! 

So I began to develop the technique of ‘rehearsing’ these exchanges in my head, usually when I was out and about doing something mundane like …

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Send It, Don’t Scrap It!

Anastasia Prempeh

As a writer my relationship with my work could often be described as ‘complicated’. The same poem can feel like the best thing I’ve ever written and in another moment seem like it just isn’t working. Then there’s the process of trying to edit and improve the piece to make it ‘great’, but becoming so involved in the words, the syntax and the line breaks can sometimes make it feel like I can’t look at it objectively anymore. What makes a great poem great anyway? Feedback and second/third/fourth opinions can be helpful but in the end - and I’m sure many other writers do the same - I go with my gut.

Unfortunately though, this is also where doubt can rear its ugly head. It's so easy to just ‘scrap it’ and put it away. But don’t let this happen. Send it. Submit it to a magazine, a review, an anthology. Enter it in a competition. As clichéd as it sounds, when I submitted ‘Those Words’ to the Great British Write Off competition I didn’t expect to win. …

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The Rollercoaster Relationship I Have With My Writing

There was a girl and boy in the top year of my school that had been together since the last year of primary school. Everyone knew them, everyone was used to seeing them nuzzling each other’s necks, and equally as often, wringing them. One week they were in love, snuggled up on a bench, feeding each other crisps, giggling, whispering “I love you”, and the next, they’d be on opposite sides of the dining hall, glaring at one another, until one would storm off shouting “I hate you!” It was a cycle. Sulk, kiss, make up, declare love to world, disagree, scream, shout, declare hatred, and repeat. A rollercoaster, really, and the type of relationship my 13-year-old self vowed to avoid. And I did, very successfully... Until I decided I wanted to be a writer. While so far I may have managed to avoid a tumultuous love-hate relationship with another person, the truth is, I have one with everything I write, and everything I have ever written. In between the initial idea and submitting …

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Poetry Writing Tips from The London Magazine

The London Magazine

We put together some of our best writing tips and techniques. Whether you're an established writer or making your first foray into the world of poetry - we like to think these will be helpful to all poets. 

To write effective poetry you have to read loads of poems. Read contemporary poetry as well as poems from the great historic slipstream of verse. However, do not try to approximate the poetic forms and concerns of bygone epochs. Immerse yourself in the ways that contemporary poets are framing their work in terms of structure.  

Indeed, think of the word framing when you come to write. Think of the poem more as an assembly of language on the blank space of the page. It is up to you how and where you place your words. A collection of poems is like an exhibition of paintings set against the white walls of a gallery.

Writing poetry is always an exercise in the ultra-specificities of language. Abstraction and opacity are the enemies of good poetry. …

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