Things I forget to remember about writing

Reading accounts of what works for other writers is no substitute for writing. Writing about and keeping a blog page collection of what works for other writers is likewise no substitute for writing. Nevertheless, I’ve always found it useful to read other people’s rules for writing (see Jonathan Franzen), Elmore Leonard and others), or about writers’ working habits (The Paris Review is my favourite source), if for no other reason than to know that they need a few rules for keeping them going.

Of course they are not rules as such, but prompts. This is an ongoing collection of the prompts that have stuck in my head. I wanted them all in one place online so I can refer back to them. They might even be helpful to other people.

(To begin they’ll be thrown together like the contents of a bedroom cupboard. Some kind of structure will hopefully emerge as I go.)


Really good writing comes from crazy writing (via Young-Ha Kim at 13:01)

Keep a diary/journal: as a record of meaningful events to fuel your writing []

Getting stuck

At the end of each block of time writing, make a note of the strategy for starting next time [].

Each time you start, remember it takes time to build up a mental picture of the current state of the story – so that new ideas have something to latch onto.

On Distraction

All first drafts to be written with paper and pen []…


Get someone else to read your story to you. When someone else reads it you stop hearing what you wanted to say and hear exactly what you’ve written.(via Paul McVeigh)

Draft #4: the time ‘to punch up the language, to replace shopworn words and phrases with stuff that sings’. 

Use a good dictionary