Home Forums General Discussion Your Top Writing Tips?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Peter M. Ball 4 years, 8 months ago.

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    Peter M. Ball

    Since we’re kicking off the new AWM forums this week, I figured I’d start with a topic that’s near and dear to my heart: tips for improving your writing and keeping your career on track.

    As manager of the Australian Writer’s Marketplace and a writer myself, I spend a lot of time offering people very specific pieces of advice, but I always return to two key things.

    1) Don’t try to eat the entire elephant.

    Sometimes writing is like trying to eat an elephant – it seems impossible to get anywhere if you think about the project as a whole. When I write, I try to focus on getting the next 250 words down; everything else will take care of itself if I keep focusing on creating something new every time I sit down to write.

    2) Don’t Be Afraid to Send Work Out

    I spent about ten years writing things without getting published, for the simple reason that I didn’t actually send my work out. These days I look back on those days and, while I don’t regret them, I do kinda wish I’d gotten into the submission habit a little earlier than I did. No-one gets published unless they’re getting their work out there, in front of editors (or readers, in the case of the indie publishing crowd), and that doesn’t happen when your manuscripts get locked in the bottom drawer.

    So that’s the bedrock of my approach to writing. How about everyone else? What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received in your writing career?


    Annette Freeman

    Hi Peter

    When you say ‘send work out’, do you mean short stories to journals that publish them, entries to competitions, essays…where do you send them? What about if you’re a novel writer – should novel writers work on short stories or journalism pieces just in order to ‘send out’?
    I’m a bit like your former self — I’d love you to develop your comments a bit, ad the logic seems clear! But I’m not sure how to put it into practice.


    Peter M. Ball

    Specifically, I’m thinking of the mode the writer is already working in: novelists still need to get work out there in front of agents and publishers, and the act of deciding something is ready and actually mailing it to someone is frequently a stumbling block. It’s always tempting to do one last rewrite or edit, to chase perfection, instead of getting on with the business of sending work out and starting on the next thing.

    There may be a longer gap between submitting novels than there is in putting together short stories, but ultimately the advice applies. Finish things. Send them out.

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