By J.A. (Julie) Kazimer
As writers we hear tons of advice from editors, agents, other writers and fans (plus anyone who ever hears we are writers, randomly, even in the loo).
All of this advice is wonderful. And horrible. Good and bad. It's all about how we see it, and how we react to it.
The Guardian newspaper out of London once collected 10 bits of advice from some famous authors. While I love reading this list just to see what advice Neil Gaiman has for me, it's the Irish novelist, Roddy Doyle, who struck the biggest cord. Here's a few bits of his wisdom:
1 Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.
Best advice I can think of. If my favorite writer can't handle the pressure, what is the future for a hack like me?
4 Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House before he started writing it. The rest must have been easy.
I like this idea as it keeps me on track. I can always change it at a later date. It's not like the publisher is going to keep my title anyway.
5 Do restrict your browsing to a few websites a day. Don't go near the online bookies – unless it's research.
When I started out writing, I used to play online poker. I called it research. God, do I love my research.
6 Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, eg "horse", "ran", "said".
Again, when I first started out, I thought I sounded smarter by using my thesaurus at will. Now I use it as a coffee coaster. I find it works much better.
7 Do, occasionally, give in to temptation. Wash the kitchen floor, hang out the washing. It's research.
God, I HATE research. I'm a writer. Why do I have to wash my clothes? Or the floor? No one's looking there.
And finally, my favorite:
10 Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog – "He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego." But then get back to work.
J.A. Kazimer lives in a small mountain community on Mars. When she's not fostering peace accords between people and Martians, she writes best selling, award winning books about how awesome she is...
Any advice you would add? Any advice you've ever taken that you'd like to share?