Helpful writing tips from Beverley Ward
Beverley Ward is a writer, facilitator and coach, with twenty years experience of supporting fellow writers on their journeys to becoming the writers that they want to be. Here she shares ten tips. These are aimed at writers who are starting out, but there's plenty here for more experienced wordsmiths too.
1. Develop a writing practice
You wouldn’t run a marathon without training and writing is no different. If you want to be a writer, you need to practice. Write regularly and vary your practice with journal writing, poetry and fiction. Commit to building up your writing muscles with regular exercise. Write every day if you can. You won’t regret it.
2. Make time
There’s no question that finding time for writing can be hard, and especially hard for people who have a lot of other commitments and responsibilities (says the self-employed single parent), but the truth is there is always time. If writing is important to you, you must make time in the same way that you make time to exercise or to catch up with friends. Make writing a regular habit, even if it’s just ten or twenty minutes a day or even once a week. You’ll be amazed how quickly the words mount up.
3. Find a community of writers to be part of
Being a writer can be lonely until you discover your tribe and then it becomes the most joyful and wonderful journey full of authentic relationships and connection. Join a writing group, a course or an online community and you’ll soon find out that there isn’t just one kind of person who is allowed in the club and that writers are people like you after all. If you’d like to join one of my writing groups or my online community, get in touch.
4. Allow yourself to play and experiment
Creativity is a form of play. You can have big ambitions for your writing but don’t take it so seriously that you forget to play. Try new things and have fun with words and ideas. Experiment.
5. Allow yourself to fail.
Failure is as much a part of the creative process as play. Embrace it. If you don’t try different ways of writing, you won’t find the one that works for you. And, so often, mistakes lead to new inventions. If a cook in Bakewell hadn’t mixed the almonds and eggs in the wrong way, Bakewell pudding wouldn’t have been invented and think how much poorer the world would be without that. (If you haven’t tried this delicacy, you must.)
6. Free write
Free writing is a way of writing that bypasses the censor and it’s such a key tool for writers. In essence, free writing is just writing whatever comes to mind without judgment or expectation. It’s a great way to tap into your unconscious mind and to develop your writing muscles. Pick a random phrase from a book or a song to start with and just follow the pen and see what emerges. I guarantee it will surprise you.
7. Befriend your inner critic
We all have an inner critic. It’s the annoying voice that presents the endless barriers and obstacles, that tries to keep you in your place. It might seem odd to befriend that voice but, remember, it’s just trying to keep you safe. You won’t get rid of it so it’s best not to try. Just listen to it and humour it as you might a cantankerous uncle or a tantruming child and then, write anyway.
8. Share your work
Sharing your writing with other people can feel terrifying at first but it’s one of the very best ways to start to get over your fears. Be careful who you share it with though. Writing is best shared in communities of supportive writers and with people you really trust.
9. Step out of your comfort zone
The best writing is often written when you’re at the very edge of your comfort zone. If it scares you to write it and terrifies you to share it, you’re probably onto something.
10. Start small
You don’t have to write a bestseller when you first put pen to paper. You don’t even need to set out to write a novel or a poetry collection, Start with a chapter, a poem, a first line.
For more of Beverley's tips and advice, request a copy of her Free E-Book here.
She offers a range of writing workshops and one-to-one coaching/mentoring and owns The Writers Workshop in Sheffield. You can find out more about Beverley here.