Tips for New Writers

Look, no-one can tell you what, where, how or how often to write. For every writer who swears by writing for an hour at 6 am every day, there’ll be one who prefers to pull an all-nighter once a week.

There are no rules and even if there are, they’re only the ones you make up for yourself.

Writing to Nanny - Mandy Sutter as a child.

This is especially true if you’re writing just for yourself, or for your family and friends.

But writing something to a publishable standard usually involves a lot of work, often more than anyone in their right mind would agree to.

If you want to be a published writer, and/or you want to write something really good, writing needs to be part of your life.

Time spent writing is what makes you a writer. Otherwise that time will pass, as it has a knack of doing, and you’ll be one of those people who corner other people at parties and say they’ve got a book in them, if only they had time to write it.

Not that that’s entirely a bad thing. Unrealised dreams are often what keep us going through our sometimes uninspiring day to day lives.

Preserving writing as a pipe dream means that you’ll never have to try and get published, which can be a tough process. You’ll also never have to lie awake worrying about book sales, or reviews, or what your contemporaries are doing and why they win more prizes than you do. You won’t have to puzzle about how to follow up a success and whether it will matter if your next book is completely different from the one before.

Now comes the part where I say, ‘But on the other hand…’ and list all the good things about being a writer. But I’m not going to do that. You probably already know them.

You’ve probably already experienced the absorption and the way time passes, frictionless and free, until you re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and realise you are busting for a pee and haven’t eaten or drunk for four hours.

You’ve probably already realised that the other dimension you just time-travelled to is as real and important as the day to day world. You probably know too that it’s a place where complete strangers, through writing and reading, communicate with others more intimately than if they met face to face.

If you’ve visited that dimension even once, you’ll probably want to go there again. So keep writing, keep time-travelling. I’ll see you there.