Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Catherine Deveny's Five Tips For Writers

First time novelist Catherine Deveny shares her best tips for writing.

1. Don’t let the thought that what you write, think you are going to write or are writing is crap stop you from writing. If we all did that no one would write anything. Or another way of putting it: crap isn’t crap, it’s just another name for fertiliser. As Dr. Seuss says, ‘Everything stinks until it’s finished.’

2. Set yourself low expectations like writing for 30 minutes a day. Most people immediately feel they have failed because they set themselves ridiculously high and unachievable goals. My book The Happiness Show was written in 30-minute increments. And apropos lowering expectations, don’t get all lofty, just write the book you want to read. A good story is a good story. Dont worry if you think someone has ‘done it before’. EVERYTHING has been done before.

3. Do the writing before you fold the washing. Do the writing before the ironing. Do the writing before getting dressed, having a shower or eating breakfast. Do the writing first. Because there is always something you can be doing instead of writing. Do the ironing, washing, eating breakfast, etc, as a reward for completing the writing (see my column on writing here).

4. Perfect is the enemy of good. Be a completionist not a perfectionist. It’s normal to have 17 negative thoughts for every positive thought. ‘Art is never finished, only abandoned.’ Leonardo da Vinci

5. As you’re writing, you can only see as far ahead as the headlights and that’s how it should be. Don’t panic, just keep driving. And know you’ll only be able to see the whole journey when you’re finished. ‘It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ E.L. Doctorow

Catherine Deveny's debut novel The Happiness Show is available now as a print and ebook.

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