Life Lessons · Writing

What Valuable Lesson Have You Learnt Since You Started Writing?

When we first start out as writers, there are plenty of valuable lessons we need to learn. These include rejection, criticism and continually practicing our craft; however I think one of the most valuable lessons I have learnt since I started writing is getting my ideas down on paper.

I first started writing during my teenage years when I was in High School. During those early years, I was like an addict. Story ideas would appear and I felt the need to write the whole thing in its entirety in novel form, until the excitement fizzled out and I was onto the next ‘high’ (hardly surprising). Sometimes when an idea appeared, I didn’t write it down, foolishly believing that I would remember it. Sometimes I did, but others disappeared completely.

Ideas for stories can tend to turn up when we least expect it, making it difficult to get pen and paper (really, what is it about having a shower?) Other times, we can be scrambling to get just one little spark of an idea, which is lovingly referred to as writer’s block.

The interesting thing is that the more you write, the more ideas you tend to come up with (perhaps this is why some famous authors don’t believe in writer’s block). It’s getting them written down that can become an issue. Some authors have pens and notebooks scattered throughout their house and in their handbag for whenever an idea strikes. Over the years, I have learnt to use a similar tactic – grab a pen and paper quick sticks and write the idea down and make sure it makes some kind of sense for when you go over it.

In order for us to write, either fiction or non-fiction, we need ideas and plenty of them if we really want to succeed as writers. Of-course life would be a bit simpler if we had one of Dumbledore’s pensieves!

What is one valuable lesson you’ve learnt since you started writing? Do you have trouble coming up with ideas? How do you get your ideas down? Do you get ideas when you’re in the bath/shower and find that particularly annoying?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Writing

Finding Advice at Author Talks.

Recently, I attended an author visit by John Flanagan, author of the Ranger’s Apprentice series.  The series began as a collection of short stories for his young son, who was not interested in reading.  Although the series was originally meant for young boys, the series has a large following amongst girls (John took his publishers advice on introducing a strong female).  The books have since gone on to sell millions of copies throughout the world, been translated into various languages and has won many awards.

John was entertaining, informative and great with the children.  A highlight was his ‘show and tell’ – being a longbow, which he got some of the children to demonstrate.  Here is his advice to writers just starting out:-

  • Plan your story – you wouldn’t get in your car without knowing exactly where you were going.
  • Story ideas can be found anywhere – it could be as simple as just walking down the street.
  • Character names can also be found anywhere – one character’s name was found upon a billboard in Tamworth advertising a local business (of course, some alterations had to be made).
  • Although rejection letters can feel personal, your story may not suit the publishers’ requirements, or the publisher may recently have accepted something similar.  John was rejected about nine times!
  • Be persistent – John Flanagan almost gave up trying until one of his children reminded him of those short stories he had written some time ago (they later went on to become the Ranger’s Apprentice series).

Attending author talks can be very rewarding – not only do you learn about the author’s work, you also get a feel for their personality and see how they interact with their readers.   I recommend it to anyone.

Image by Debbie Johansson.