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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.

Beating Comparison-Itis

Lia Louis

Regular Writers & Artists blogger Lia Louis returns to talk about the ill-effects of the dreaded Comparison-itis, and how it can be overcome...


While the rest of the world seems to be suffering with colds and coughs now autumn germs have scuttled out from hiding, I am suffering with something that can’t be eased with Olbas oil, paracetemol and a long, hard mope: I am suffering with Comparison-itis. Yep. Comparison-itis. You may have never heard of it, but chances are, if you’re a writer, you’d have suffered with it at least once in your life. Or like me, you have an attack of it regularly.

When I talk about comparison-itis I mean to suffer from the following symptoms: the unnecessary, unhelpful, pointless... but totally tantalising action of comparing yourself to published writers, and the subsequent convincing of one's self that you have no earthly business in even attempting to reach their levels. 

It's a nasty little bugger, and can be difficult to shift from …

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Writing When Time Runs From You



I'm in my bed in the dark, a snoring one year old squashed into my side, a crick in my neck, and the sound of a rainforest downpour echoing around the room (the baby won't sleep without it. Just one of his many Mariah-Carey-Dressing-Room-esque requests). This is how I write now. Not all the time - no, sometimes, I am lucky enough to sit in perfect silence, at a proper wooden surface, with notes and coffee and everything. But mostly, this is how I write. On my phone, in the notes app, in a window of time I have grabbed with two hands from a speeding conveyer belt, and wherever I may find myself in that moment, however inconvenient, however far from ideal.

Before my life got as busy as it is now – before three kids, I suppose – I wrote at my laptop in uninterrupted silence, on that proper wooden surface I mentioned, feeling almost like a real writer – you know, the ones who sit at walnut desks, listening to Mozart and drinking coffee from tiny mugs with tiny handles. I’d …

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Be a Better Writer

In her book, 10 Rules of Writing, Elmore Leonard advised would be authors to – ‘Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray’. Whilst Ernest Hemmingway famously wrote, ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is just sit at a typewriter and bleed.’

But surely there’s more to great writing than simply praying and hemorrhaging at your desk… I’ve analysed advice by famous authors in an attempt to discover how to become a better writer.  My favourite tips are listed below; let me know what you think of them.

1. “Find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” – Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451

How to use it:

At first glance it seems Bradbury is advocating a sort of voodoo magic in the creative writing process whereby protagonists take care of the plot for you. However I think what he’s really saying here is that your characters should …

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10 Writing Touchstones: Identity

‘Just be yourself’ is about the worst advice anyone can give. It’s the “just” that does it. The perceived thing changes: if you’re self-conscious, you’re not the same as when you’re unobserved. You’re also different with every friend, pet and family member in your life. Every personality has facets, every life has eras and everybody has good and bad days. Still, these sides and eras are united in an essential self. When feeling confident, engaged and safe, that self can be accessed more fully. That’s the goal, on the page or off. It’s difficult to eliminate stress factors, self-doubt and self-consciousness. Being yourself is anything but a “just”.

Writing to please yourself is the best way to learn about your own identity as a writer. Your voice and ideas aren’t compromised; you’re free to experiment and explore. Each Green Ink Writers’ Gym warm-up begins with one rule: no editing or self-criticism. This licensed self-exploration makes the blank page …

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10 Writing Touchstones: Observation

‘Can you teach Creative Writing?’

There have been and will continue to be well-publicised arguments about whether something so individual can or should be taught. The answer, though, should depend on what we mean by “taught”. Creative ability can’t be learned by rote, or recited like a times table. However, good habits and stimulus from a good teacher will provide an introduction to key techniques that encourage the student to move forward towards their own discoveries. 

‘Can you learn Creative Writing?’

You can always become more fluent in your own voice. If you are a writer, at any stage in your career, you should never stop learning. The longer and more successful the career the more true that is, so if you’re a relative beginner you have no excuse not to be learning creative writing. 

Perception drives reality. So pay attention.

You can also teach yourself to think and live like a writer. The rest is passion and hard work and don’t kid yourself it’s always …

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