Every week when I send out my creative writing prompts for my online writing club, The Writing Habit, I ask a different writer to share their best writing tip and/or words of encouragement. Here’s a collection of what they’ve shared with us so far, and if you want to get more tips and inspiration like this, make sure you sign up for The Writing Habit emails, here.
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We are between spring and winter. A kind of no-man’s land. Or a hybrid mixture of the two. Daffodils are in full bloom, the pussy willow has released it’s nectar for those early insects and the damson tree has pinky/white tightly packed buds. And we also have bitterly cold weather and snow lying on the ground. I rather enjoy this time. This mix-match of seasons. 11 degrees Celsius one day and minus 5 the next. Mother Nature is never boring. #mybrowntablestories
Helen Redfern is an online storyteller who loves to share her seasonal stories on Instagram. She has a blog about writing, online creativity, baking, reading and chicken and duck-keeping, and she’s currently writing a novel (she shares *brilliant* tips and very helpful and interesting insights into her writing process over on her blog and YouTube channel, by the way—well worth checking out if you want some inspiration for planning your own novel). She also runs an online course about blogging and online story-telling called “Sowing Stories“.
“Instagram has made me a better writer. Sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? After all, Instagram is a visual platform—the photograph taking precedence.
The caption, however, should not be neglected or ignored. Your words in this space are what encourages the reader to slow in their scrolling, to pause as their finger hovers over the double-tap. Then their finger relaxes as they allow your words to wash over them. It enables you not just to engage and to create a connection but also to experiment with how you use words and to grow as a writer.
Next time you post on Instagram, or any other social media, think about those few lines and make them count. Describe a moment. Don’t just say ‘beautiful poppy’ like I’ve done in the past. Tell us what you were doing or thinking about before you saw the poppy. Why did it capture your attention? What else was happening around you? What could you hear or smell? Grab your audience and pull them right into your picture.”
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Been working on a new kind of pop up book…⛰ ? Big thanks to @allthatisshe for the inspiration behind this and for having the insight to tell me I should create a series out of it. With the help of a few other brilliant people, we’ve come up with #onceuponalandscape as the hashtag for it, what d’you reckon? . . . . . #allthatisinstagram #cornersofmyworld #whimsicalwonderfulwild #reclaimthehappy #bookstagrammer #gowildlyandslow #bibliophile #booknerdigans #bunchofbookbaristas #creativeme #letsgosomewhere #winterwonderlens #handsinframes #toldbyhands #theuncoolclub #areyouawake #thenarrativesociety #thehappycapture #humansofbookstagram #evoke_cumbria #editingfun #ourplayfulstyle #whimsicalart #fortheloveofreading #mostlyreading #booksthatinspire #zl_handscapes
Zoe Lea is writer of psychological thrillers. Her first book, If He Wakes, is due out this April.
“I wish I’d known how tenacious you have to be in regards to getting your work seen and how resilient you have to be to rejection. Writing the book is the easy part, it’s getting an agent and publisher that’s hard, so be persistent about it. If you’ve finished a book and are awaiting feedback from an agent, you should be writing another whilst waiting.
If that agent passes, ask for feedback and send it to another agent, never dwell on the rejection. Enter short story competitions to get your work out there, join a writing group where you can get support and swap ideas, keep up to date with literary news so you know what agents are actively looking to take writers on. Sign up for newsletters detailing new writing opportunities and courses. Be on the lookout for any opportunity where you might receive a critique or get your writing in front of an agent or publisher. Know that you will get rejected, many, many times and learn not to take any of it personally.”
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My words melt with the snow, voices fade in the thaw. On the wind there is an old voice trying to learn a new song. #mymonthofwords After a strange March of snow and ice I am looking forward to spring, although I have to admit there will always be a snowy corner of my heart ❄ I seem to feel my most creative during the winter months ☄? Will you miss anything about winter? . . . . . #writer #writersofinstagram #spilledink #instapoet #writeitdown #heartofpoets #heartofpoetsbloom #writergram #womenwritersofinstagram #spilledthoughts #instawriter #writerssociety #instapoetry #seasonspoetry #myeverydaymagic #mystoryofwinter #winterstories #thequietwinter #quietinthewild
Oonagh Moon is a talented photographer and writer who lives in a small town in Scotland. You can find her online writing journal, here.
“Write every day. Preferably in a diary or notebook that no one else knows the existence of. Writing every day does two great things for a writer:
One, it creates a habit of writing. It will become as essential as your morning cup of tea or coffee!
And two, by writing every day without outside judgement or influence you can write your truths, the things that right now you might be afraid to say. Slowly but surely, you will discover who you are as a writer.”
Christina Lynn is an American photographer and writer based in Derbyshire (a self-described “Anglophile”) who has a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative Writing. She teaches writing skills at her local university, and is also a wedding photographer.
“My first novel, which I’m currently working on, came to me after a visit to a National Trust site (and let me tell you, the National Trust is made of frickin’ fairy dust because we do NOT have that kind of magical access to historical sites in California). I was inspired by one of the women who had been the mistress of the building at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. She too was a writer, and, writing student that I was, I immediately wondered what the implications were of experimenting with the genre of biography and fiction to tap into the female experience of writing during that era. I won’t get all ‘academicky’ on you now, but it leads me perfectly into my top creative writing tip for you guys:
Do not feel the pressure to ‘be original’ in your writing. Instead, always ALWAYS stay observant and curious. Now hang on, because that’s not as cryptic as it sounds. What I mean is, do not feel as though you have to sit in a blank room staring at the wall and suddenly be able to come up with a story. Or even better, to walk through the woods and simply expect to be inspired by the birdsong in the trees (I have done this, and I came home grumpy and in desperate need of tea and biscuits).
For so long, I thought that the best writers were naturally creative and naturally good storytellers (but going through the drafting process has definitely taught me different). What I came to embrace in my MA was the fact that I will never come up with something entirely new, and that was actually an amazing thing because it affirmed the fact that as humans, our souls thrive on relationships. We are meant to be inspired by other people’s stories, to make connections, to show our unique perspective on something that has already been done. To affirm that we are all connected. And honestly, if you think that people will find your writing ‘tired,’ then I beg you to recall every film that you love that is a recreation of something that Shakespeare wrote *ahem, basically everything?*
Instead, I encourage you to walk around with a constant curiosity, observing things and asking questions until someone’s story touches you enough that you want to write. And I don’t just mean write a biography or a historical novel: it could be a poem, a short story, a blog post. Anything. But please don’t feel as though you have to come up with every story completely on your own. If you do, you’re cutting yourself off from your greatest source of pixie dust: the stories of others. Now I will add the tiny pretence that I would expect everyone to have a moral approach to using other people’s stories (i.e., don’t, like, steal something that is definitely not yours).
Hélène Cixous said that “in one another, we will never be lacking,” and in a way, I think she means that we create so that others can create. So do not be afraid to be inspired by a story that has already been told. Your take on that story could then inspire someone else, and thus that beautiful, creative chain continues to grow.”
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Hello, my name is Frankie and I am a writer. . I write for both work and pleasure and if I had a magic wand (or you had one I could borrow) I would wave it around, shake out a little fairy glitter dust and make it possible for me to live off the books I write. . Because I don't have that magic wand (and you're rightly keeping yours locked away) I keep plugging away writing, re-writing, editing and repeat. Most of the time for clients. Some of the time working on the fictional stories I love so much the characters in them feel real. Sometimes I write an hour of fiction a day. Other times it's ten minutes one day in a week. But either way I keep writing… . If that sounds easy, it's not. There are a million reasons not to write and I am very good at reminding myself of them. I'm also very good at doubting myself and listening to my inner critics… Yes, I definitely have more than one inner critic and most of the time they're having one hell of a swinging cocktail party in my head. Also I have a two-year-old who wants to hang out all day, every day. . But writing also takes me somewhere I feel peace and calm and creative contentment. Writing makes me feel alive. Writing is a big joy in my life. That's why I have to keep on keeping on, even when I don't want to. . This is why I created @writenowcards. They are the reminders I need. They silence my inner critics long enough for me to pick up a pen or open my laptop and just get to work before they pour themselves another drink and start bitching about me again. They are the closest thing to a muse I'll ever find. They are keeping me writing when everything else tries to stop me. . Whatever it is, whether you write or create, make or do; whatever your big joy is, pursue it. It's worth it. You are worth it.
Frances Thompson is the creator of beautiful packs of positive affirmation cards for writers called WriteNOW cards. You can find more great writing tips and advice over on her blog, As the Bird Flies.
“We all find it hard to write some days. It’s the nature of the craft. The key is to find something that sort of jolts you out of your ‘I don’t want to do this’ or ‘I can’t do this’ mood and into ‘I want to write! Let me at that computer!’.
One thing I always remind myself at this time and it definitely helps me shift gears is that I will never, ever, ever regret having written. When I close my eyes and hopefully drift off into a deep sleep at night I often think to myself ‘Hmm, maybe I spent a bit too much time on Instagram today.’ or ‘Why did I spend an hour searching online for robot hoovers when I can’t really afford to buy one?’ but I never, ever, ever think ‘Man, I spent too much time writing today, that was a waste.’ In fact, it’s nearly always the opposite experience. Any day that I have spent time writing, is a good, good day and I will fall asleep smiling…”
PS If you liked these tips and haven’t joined my creative writing club yet, find out more, here! There’ll be more good stuff coming to your inboxes after my maternity break.