How to write a (good) blog

Writing is a habit and one of the best ways to keep the habit alive is to write a blog. That said, you have to find something to write about that you truly love, or no one is going to want to read it. There’s a great blog article by Robert at 101 books on what he learnt after 5 years of blogging (he has 50, ooo+ readers, so he probably knows). Primarily, he says, you need to care and you must have an opinion. Get that down and writing a blog really can help to focus your head on writing concisely and often. Never a bad thing.


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What’s in a name? How to choose a title for your book

Most books have a working title while they’re being written and then the final title comes into focus at some point throughout the process. In the past, this just meant working out something that related to the book and how it made people feel. But with many more books being written (it’s amazing how many have similar titles on goodreads) you also need to think about the title in the context of search terms; people need to find your book to buy it. Continue Reading

Henry Miller on writing; “work on one thing at a time until finished”

In the 1930s when working on Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller set down his work commandments, which later went into his book on writing. He seems a little schizophrenic in his instructions.”Keep human. See people, go places, drink when you feel like it” is a little contradictory to “Write first and always. Friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.” It sounds like he was always trying to focus – “work according to program and not according to mood” but – “forget the program when you feel like it. But go back to it the next day.” Hilarious. He was right of course. Starting a book is easy. Finishing it is the hard part.


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Tech innovation for writers

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Tech innovation offers us so much more than just a computer to write and store our stuff. There are tons of new apps and products available to writers. Some tech lets you write, distraction-free. You can buy the Freewrite, a computer masquerading as a typewriter, that’s portable, with an e-paper screen and downloads everything to the cloud (pictured*). Or download an app (freedom) that disables your computer from letting you do anything but type for as long as you tell it (to stop you eating up the hours, surfing the net or going on facebook).Continue Reading

How to write cliffhangers

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There’s a BBC post about how cliffhangers came of age in the 19th century when fiction was consumed serially and writers wanted to leave readers wanting more. It’s known as the Zeigarnik effect (after a Soviet psychologist) who observed that waiters could remember the orders that were still in progress but couldn’t remember the orders that were completed. It seems we have an insatiable desire for resolution.Continue Reading

“Mad Man” David Ogilvy on writing; “write the way you talk. Naturally”

In 1982, the original “Mad Man” David Ogilvy sent a memo to all his advertising agency staff declaring that “woolly people write woolly memos, letters and speeches” and “good writing is not a natural gift”. So there’s hope for us all, eh? He laid down some pointers that are just as useful to writers as to ad men, notably, to “write the way you talk. Naturally” and “to use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs and never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification,attitudinally, judgmentally.” He deemed them hallmarks of a pretentious ass. And he reminds us all of that age-old pearl of wisdom, “never send something on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.” Maybe just as useful for anything we write, whether it’s our burning bestseller or a note to our Mum.


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How to find time to write

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I read a blog post on Books & Such by an agent who listed 3 different ways that people find the time to write. One was to get up a couple of hours earlier than everyone else and do it at the start of the day. The second was to take one day a week to do your writing in bulk. And the third was the “fit in” technique, which is basically to fit your writing in around the rest of your life. The first I find impossible (I am not a morning person), anyone with jobs and family will find the second almost impossible (I can’t remember the last time I had a whole day to myself) so most people are left with the “fit in” approach. It’s no wonder most people say they never have time to write.

But there are lots of excuses not to write. The “fit in” method can seem a little haphazard and unproductive; it’s hard to get back into writing something when I know I only have an hour or two (except for revisions on a print-out which can be easier, particularly on trains or airplanes). But when stats show we’re slumped in front of the telly for a few hours each night or on facebook or twitter, at least we know we do have the time to do something. As any writer will tell you, it’s all about practice and habit. As Todd Moss puts it in “How to write a novel and keep your day job” it’s all about being organised, getting to bed early, keeping fit and er, being hyper-organised. So turn off the telly, plan everything and get going!


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