Have you set yourself the new years resolution to write more? We want 2024 to be the year you achieve your writing goals, and take a step further in your creative career.
In this article, we’re sharing tools and techniques you can use to overcome psychological barriers, and push yourself to write your best work yet. Throughout the last year, we’ve spoken to a number of writers and tutors, including Fiona Mason, Vida Adamczewski and Kathryn Simmonds, and they’ve offered expert advice to help you push your boundaries, create a writing routine that works for you, and prioritise your happiness this year. Read on for great advice that can be applicable to all genres of writing!
Would you like to draw on your personal experiences in your writing? Sometimes, it can be hard to feel confident and comfortable with the notion of vulnerability, especially when addressing themes of love, death, money, or the body.
‘I wanted to invite the reader into the intensity of that experience, into the kind of claustrophobic, closed silence of the space of the house, to get a really strong sense of place. So, the kind of objects and the rooms and the moving from one place to the other within the house during that time, all of these things became really, really important to me. And I think they’re what really bring the reader into that experience.’
To help with this, author Fiona Mason suggests seeing the reader as someone who is walking alongside you, rather than watching from afar. In this podcast episode, she discusses her journey into writing, the stigma around talking and writing about death and how she makes a living from her writing. Listen here →
Writing exercise: NCW virtual resident, editor and poet Crispin Rodrigues recommends re-writing one of your favourite poems or paragraphs in a way that you would have done it, either in a different language, or through a different interpretation of resonance of that paragraph. This will allow you to become more confident in your voice, and be more authentic with your readers, which is often the hardest process of writing. Find out more →
Many writers place unrealistic expectations upon themselves, striving to achieve the impossible task of becoming a ‘Good Writer’, somebody who has their writing routine nailed down. This year, relieve yourself of the pressure of being perfect and steal yourself a writing life in the borrowed time between everyday tasks.
‘[…] not a ‘good’ writer or a ‘bad’ writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.’ – Joan Didion, Let Me Tell You What I Mean, 2021
In this article, writer and UEA New Forms Award 2022 winner Vida Adamczewski shares her personal journey through setting boundaries with her writing, the psychological battle between seeing writing as your job and starting to resent it, and finding joy in writing spontaneously again. Read more →
Resource pack: Building and maintaining a writing routine that’s right for you can be tricky. Our latest resource pack provides a range of approaches, advice and tips on how to find your groove. Access now →
Step beyond your comfort zone
If you’re stuck in your current writing project, why not push yourself to try something new? We have free resources that will allow you to experiment with a wide range of genres, styles and themes.
‘Be aware of all the writing around you, look at writing in all its forms – children’s books, magazine articles, drama, short stories, advertising. Think about how words work in other contexts. Keep learning.’ – Kathryn Simmonds
Set yourself the challenge this year to write unlike you’ve ever written before. Experiment with historical fiction, explore tips for writing romance, or set yourself the task to tackle writing humour. Whatever it is you challenge yourself to, go into it with an open mind because who knows? You may find a topic or theme which inspires you to start your novel, script or poetry collection.
Podcast: In this episode of The Writing Life, author, screenwriter and lecturer Tom Benn discusses how he experimented with writing crime from a female perspective in his new crime novel Oxblood, so that he could see the world he was writing in a ‘different way’.
Get to know your characters
How do we create characters with whom viewers can joyfully and wholeheartedly engage? Writing is all about character, and it’s important to make sure your readers are empathising with your protagonist, and feeling what the character feels.
‘A strong character gives rise to their plot when they set out on a quest for something they want, long for, or need. This story couldn’t happen to another person. It must fit the main character like a beautifully-made glove.’
Podcast: Listen to award-winning author Okechukwu Nzula draw upon his experience of writing Here Again Now to share techniques for tackling the greatest pillar of creative writing; developing captivating and complex characters.
Always ask yourself if you’re having fun
When you’re writing, it’s important to check in with yourself, and to centre your own happiness. As Vida explores in the article above, it’s vital that you try not to push yourself so far that you begin to resent the things you once loved. Set boundaries for your writing that protect your passions, your wants, your itch to write.
‘We know it’s never constantly fun (sometimes, quite the opposite!). But if you’re consistently not enjoying yourself in one way or another, then what are you writing for?’
Author, editor and NCW virtual resident Tse Hao Guang offers advice to writers hoping to write in a way that’s inventive, surprising and prioritises your own enjoyment. Read here →
Self-paced online course: Write more and stay happy with this self-paced course led by writer and NCW Academy tutor Ben Johncock. Packed with exercises, this course will help you push past writer’s block, measure your productivity, and fill your emotional tank so that you become a happier writer. Find out more →
Read like a writer
What are you reading? Every writer is a reader first, and there is no better inspiration than a really good book.
‘Read the dead and the living. Read experimental and mainstream. Read in translation. If you want to extend yourself when you’re writing, are you challenging yourself enough as a reader? Don’t keep yourself within a narrow remit: play with form and subject and tone. It can be healthy to move against the grain. If you read something you actively don’t like, that can be useful too: how is it challenging to you? What is it that causes your reactions?’
NCW Recommends: Looking for your next book? We’ve shared our recommended reads for the winter season, with everything from haunted gothic novels to heartwarming Japanese fiction! Find out more →
Imagine yourself this time next year, what have you achieved? How has your writing journey transformed? One of the best ways to achieve your writing goals is through regular feedback from a skilled professional.
Our carefully supported online tutored courses offer writers the opportunity to learn from award-winning novelists and industry experts, who will provide you with personalised feedback each fortnight. You’ll also have the chance to build your identity as a writer and connect with a welcoming and supportive community of peers.
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