A publisher, a poet and a writer dispense advice today. And it turned out to be a #WCW to boot. We hope you are inspired by their diverse viewpoints to get writing, to refine your style and share your work with the world.
A good editor is on your side. I have met a lot of writers that get defensive when the word “editor” is mentioned. They tend to think that editors are there to just change and destroy everything they have written. But a good editor acts as a writer’s best reader and knowing that they are on your side as a writer eases the process of bringing out the best out of your writing.
Ha, ha, ha. That I should have any writing/editing tips for anyone to follow. I can share what works for me that I have emulated from others.
1. To write well, you must read and read widely.
2. Good work takes time. It might emerge in spurts or even pour out all at once, but even that is the product of time. Be patient.
3. Edit your work. Or have someone else look at it with keen eyes.
4. Not your parents, though. That could go many ways. They might be: oh my god, you’re the best writer in the whole world! (That’s no good). They might go: ya, it’s okay. But when are you going to get a real job? Maybe you can write when you’re retired. (That’s no good, either). Or maybe they’ll go: why don’t you write like xyz who has made movies out of their novels and are now famous? What are you planning to do with this poem/short story/chapter… (That’s no good). Or maybe they’ll go: I don’t know what to make of it. Or, I’m busy. Or, show it to your sister. They understand you better. (Also no good). Your parents might not be the best critics even though they might claim to love you the best and want the best for you. Same with lovers.
5. There are no words so sublime that they cannot be edited out or re-written. Words are tools, not God. Even though we have been taught that in the beginning was the word and the word was God… Ya. (I write this with the humility that any good work requires an excellent editor. Mine was Peter Midgley whose light hand made 100 Days shimmer).
6. I believe that words, like food, must not be wasted. The mark of a good writer is that whose work flows seamlessly as if it was easy. The good writer is absent; all that exists is the world created by the reader and the words on the page. I really, really aspire to that and I recognize that it is a goal not an achievement.
7. Not everything we write must be published. Sometimes words emerge like a prelude to something else. Be patient with your own writing and with yourself.
8. Read some more. Read for content and read for strategy. Note the interesting ways that different artists craft their work. See how you can work your own way out.
9. If you have an inclination towards other works of art, and can, check out other forms of expression. I’m often really inspired and drawn to abstract paintings. What I cannot possibly do on a canvas I try to do in my poetry.
That’s it. That’s everything.
JUST WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. Write with love, with friendship, with self-encouragement and abandon. My writing teacher used to say, “if you write with your hand it goes through your heart, if you write with a computer it goes through your head.” So, I’m a believer in hand writing.
Fuck spelling, grammar and most of what you learnt at school, write what’s in your heart. You can correct and edit later.
Also, you can’t write if you don’t read, and if you read trash you will write trash. Read good literature.