Advice to Writers: Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing

When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.

When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.

Don’t romanticise your ‘vocation’. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle’. All that matters is what you leave on the page.

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3 for Thursday: Dream a Little Bigger

I’m currently on the second week of a 6 week online course taught by the amazing Megan Auman, designer, and creator of Designing an MBA – a business course for creative people, whose skills and goals don’t necessarily fit with traditional business models.

Part of my reason for taking a course with Megan is the fact that the poetry collection is being published this year and wanting to step up my game as ‘proper’ poet; part is about realising a long held ambition to create and deliver my own classes and workshops, drawing on my teaching experience, my training in design (transferring skills from one creative discipline to another) and what I’ve learned –  in writing and life – over the past few years.

Taking the next step, making the dream a little bigger.

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Advice to Writers: Sarah Lewis on Mastery

Mastery requires endurance.

Mastery, a word we don’t use often, is not the equivalent of what we might consider its cognate — perfectionism — an inhuman aim motivated by a concern with how others view us.

Mastery is also not the same as success — an event-based victory based on a peak point, a punctuated moment in time.

Mastery is not merely a commitment to a goal, but to a curved-line, constant pursuit.


– Sarah Lewis in The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (via)
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Advice to Writers: Ira Glass on Good Taste

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap.

For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit.

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3 for Thursday: Writing Tips from Bill & Ted

My teenage sister and her friends trooped in to my parent’s living room one evening, decked out in over-sized army jackets, cropped baggy trousers, shaggy hair and Docs – (shavings, piercings, optional) – and clutching a videotape of a film destined to become a cult classic: ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’.

If you just heard a groan, it was my dodgy hip and galloping lumbago because Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is 25 years old this week – yes, it is a quarter of a century since this seminal celluloid masterpiece (Citizen Who?) was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.

For those who don’t know the film (What? How? Why?), the story goes something like this.

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29 Ways to Stay Creative

The ’29 Ways to Stay Creative’ graphic has being doing the rounds on-line for a while but, like all good advice, it’s worth coming back to and checking in with from time to time.

When I read it, I see lots of different ways it can help my writing and poetry – to generate new ideas, to get started writing that first draft, to keep going when things get tough, to defeat writer’s block and to clear my head at the end of one project to make space for something new.

One of my favourite ways to stay creative is very simple: I go for a walk.

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