Someone recently asked me for some writing tips. Here they are.
1. Read. To learn. To explore. To absorb. To see what’s been done and what the possibilities are.
2. Write. To develop technique. To keep your tools sharp. Because there is no other way.
3. Re-write. To shape. To hone. To add. To cut away.
The chances of spending enough time on the above will be greatly improved if you
4. Keep social media use to a minimum.
Your work is likely to improve if you
5. Allow time between writing and seeing it as ‘finished’ (or as finished as its going to be)
6. Show your work to other people and ask for their opinions. You may find it isn’t communicating what you think it is.
7. If you disagree with other people’s suggestions or opinions of your work, ask yourself to explain why you think it is fine as it is. If you can’t explain (maybe) think again.
8. If you are not sure if you like a piece of work or you feel something could be clearer/ more interesting/ambitious, there is probably a reason. Either put it away for a while or work on it.
9. Don’t mistake exposure or popularity for ‘success’ in poetry. One definition of success might be that you were able to write what you needed to write, and you wrote it as well as you could at the time. If others like it too, that is a bonus.
10. Make up your own rules.
re. showing others your work, I was taught that if someone says there’s something wrong with your work, they’re nearly always right.
If they tell you what it needs to be changed to, they’re nearly always wrong.
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