Lauren Sams is the author of the brand new novel Crazy, Busy, Guilty. She shares with us her ten best writing tips.
1. Write. Sit down, and write. You don't need a fancy desk that you can Instagram or an expensive computer or some kind of cool software. You need you, a comfy place, and something to write with. I wrote my first book on an iPad, for God's sake. So sit down, write, and then keep writing.
2. Give yourself a break. Work in 25-minute bursts and then take a five minute break. Do this over and over until it becomes a habit. (This is called the Pomodoro Technique - no relation to the tomato, so far as I'm aware - and it works.)
3. Don't read fiction while you're writing. It will inevitably seep in, for better or worse.
4. Write as honestly as you can in the first draft. Be open and try not to edit yourself. That can all come later. In the first instance, just write. Write it all. You can (and should) come back later to polish it, but the first run-through should be as unfiltered as it possibly can be. That's where great writing starts, I reckon.
5. Find one person (or a few people) who will give you blunt feedback about your writing. Don't ask someone who you know will blow smoke up your you-know-what. For me, it's my husband, who is very smart and great at giving honest feedback. Sometimes I don't like hearing it at the time, but it's always helpful in the long run.
6. Think about your reader. Not the person who's giving you feedback, but your intended audience. Who are they, and what do you want them to know about your characters and story? What do you want them to feel?
7. Find the best time of day to write. This will be different for everyone, but for me, it's early morning. When I'm writing a book, I try (as much as possible) to wake early to bash out 1000 or so words before the rest of the world joins me. For you, it might be lunchtime at work, or after dinner. Figure out when your head works best, and get into it.
8. Finish your day's work in the middle of a sentence. That way, when you start again, you have an easy start (I find it's way easier to finish an existing sentence than to start a new one). I do this all the time.
9. Don't aim to be anyone else. We all have authors we admire and respect and love, but when you start trying to imitate them, it ain't good. Be yourself. If you want to write, you'll figure out your voice in due time. The best way? By constantly writing. And then writing a little more. And a little more after that.
10. Drink coffee in the morning and wine at night. It really helps, I swear.
11. Bonus tip: if all else fails, return to tip 1. It will not let you down.
This is an extract from Lauren Sams' hilarious and insightful newsletter Wine Time: you can subscribe to Wine Time here and we recommend you do! Photo of Lauren courtesy of Hipster Mum.