Haven’t you been able to stay in the flow lately? The following ten tips by and for authors will certainly help you to overcome your next writer’s block and crank out those words again.
Writing is treacherous. The pitfalls you may stumble into are numerous. You may consider yourself fortunate, if all you have to worry about are questions of syntax, structure, scenes and perspectives. After all, writing is always a battle against self-doubt. The good news is that many writers know this predicament only too well and share their experience in books, diaries, letters and essays. Realising that our demons were once also haunting William Faulkner gives us hope and helps us to sigh and smile with relief. In order to set the course for your next book, the team of novum publishing presents the ten most valuable words of advice by writers for writers.
“The first draft of anything is shit.”Ernest Hemingway
If Ernest Hemingway is to be believed, we should never stop questioning our self-concept. Although just as blunt and direct as always, he’s right: even the most famous writers edit their manuscripts several times before sending them off to their publishers. Don’t feel discouraged! Once you accept that your work is not done after the first draft, there’s nothing to stop you from pounding out your story.
“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.”William Faulkner
The novelist’s recommendation is one of the key teachings in this profession: reading is never a waste of time. Even poor literature is supposed to be highly instructive – especially if you are interested in how not to do it.
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”Stephen King
The author of more than 50 novels and 100 short stories ought to know – Stephen King considers peace of mind and self-discipline to be the foundation of productive work. A closed door keeps out whatever might disturb your concentration. Check out this blog entry for more insight into the relation between writing and concentration.
“Don’t drink and write at the same time.”Richard Ford
Words of wisdom Ernest Hemingway would probably not agree with. Although alcohol might help to overcome certain inhibitions, it also distorts and strains not only blood levels but also relationships and experiences. The drunken writer might remain a stereotype but certainly not something worth aiming for.
“Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.”Zadie Smith
Distractions are like poison. If you are in the flow, WhatsApp & Co will probably not be as bothersome. If you are spending hours on the next sentence, however, any online distraction will be welcome. Authors should ideally work on computers without access to the World Wide Web – sometimes also called typewriters.
“To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow.”Haruki Murakami
Writing is work. Acceptance is the secret. Of course, work can also be fun. Sometimes doing something else might just be even more fun, though. A dedicated writer faces the work that lies ahead and keeps up the rhythm.
“If you have to read to cheer yourself up, read biographies of writers who went insane.”Colm Tóibín
Drawing inspiration from bad examples is a classic way to go, especially since comparing yourself to your role models generates nothing but pressure. Why not try out humour to release some of this pressure? As an accomplished writer and literary critic, Colm Tóibín knows what he’s talking about.
“Never take advice from anyone with no investment in the outcome. Except, of course, from David Hare.”David Hare
“But my mum likes it…” are not the words of a resilient writer. Accepting criticism is essential to succeed in this profession. If you are interested in honest feedback, ask someone who will professionally benefit from your writing.
“And yet nothing is easier than to write so that no one can understand; on the other hand, nothing is more difficult than to express learned ideas so that every one must understand them.”Arthur Schopenhauer
All writers are on a quest to find their own style. Many mistake complexity for quality, though. A text does not have to sound intellectual to be it. But if no one understands your text, what is it good for? Writers are like translators, constantly trying to find the right words to put thoughts on paper. The idea of not having to become the next style idol might prove to be quite liberating. Discover the world of styles in this blog entry.
“It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating.”Gustave Flaubert
All this being said and done, we should never forget the most important of all lessons – the fun factor. It is the ticket to our imagination, our escape from the daily grind. If this is not motivation enough, perhaps it’s time to try your luck in a different profession.
Which are your favourite quotes when it comes to writing? Write a comment and let us know!
Keep writing, keep typing!
11. September 2019 at 8:51
Some useful tips I hadn’t read before. Thanks for posting this piece.
1. October 2019 at 17:56
I agree – thank you.
4. June 2020 at 15:56
Dear Novum Publishers
I have just discovered your article on cranking out the words… Talking about a bright moment in one’s life! I hope you will be happy to know that you have just sparked in me the desire to create an inspirational notebook on writing.
Ink and pen are now together again, busy laying the words of your article.. Yes, I am writing your words in my notebook… the most marvelous and uplifting pursuit that I used to have as a child in the summer holidays, in the country side in Romania…heaven for one week. I am talking the days of the 60’s.
And while I am lost in this dear copyist work, the lockdown melts and I enter the enchanted safe world of childhood once again.