Get inspired: Tips to start 2019 on the 'write' track
It can be difficult to stay motivated and disciplined when you're writing so CBC Books has collected tips from Canadian writers to help you get over the hump and produce that first draft in 2019.
Get reading, get inspired and get writing!
Be a good observer and carry a notebook
"Good writing comes down to careful observation and simple prose, to a writer paying close attention to involuntary movements and postures that reveal a person's state of mind or some other truth about a situation and then to articulating those observations in one uncluttered sentence after another." — Ruth Dyck Fehderau, English professor and CBC Nonfiction Prize longlister.
"Carry a notebook. One of the smartest things I ever started doing was carrying a notebook with me, literally everywhere I go. My best ideas come to me in transit, so I've gotten into the habit of rehearsing them in my head until I get somewhere where I can write them down. Adding a notebook to the process just enables the process far more smoothly, which means I end up with lots of new material to input into whatever file I'm currently working on. Worst-case scenario, most phones now have a Notes function which allows you to tap in a quick version and email it to yourself. Very useful!" — Gemma Files, author of Experimental Film.
More tips on finding inspiration:
- Omar El Akkad: 'Do nothing'
- Molly Peacock: 'Make time to write'
- Nola Poire: 'Read poetry and lyrics'
- Mark Sakamoto: 'Get off your phone and into your own head'
Make the time and embrace bad writing
"Keep strict hours with your writing. Make the commitment to be at your desk every day, especially when you least feel like it. You will write very little if you wait for inspiration to strike." — Esi Edugyan, author of Washington Black.
"My advice is to keep our butts in the seat. It is through bad writing that we discover good writing. We have to stick with it, curb the despair when the going gets tough. We just keep sitting with it, just keep picking at it, walking with it and picking at it and walking with it and eating with it and dreaming with it, and then... the breakthrough comes! It comes again and again until the thing is done. It is a challenging thing to do, writing a novel. Trust the process, that is my mantra." — Donna Morrissey, author of Kit's Law.
More tips on keeping your writing on track:
- Sharon Bala: 'Write every day'
- Kate Cayley: 'Set a daily word count and stick to it'
- M.W. Cook: 'Join a writing group'
- Craig Davidson: 'Find a routine and stick to it'
- Libby Gunn: 'Don't overthink it'
- Anosh Irani: 'Focus on your main character'
- Maia Lioutaia: 'Give your character motivation'
- Pasha Malla: 'Embrace the desperation'
- Anita Rau Badami: 'Create believable characters'
Learn from others and break the rules
"Let other people read your work. Anything you can learn from other people is helpful, whether it gives you new ideas, fixes issues or just confirms that something is or isn't working. Even if you're not ready to take advice or make changes, talking to someone you trust about your writing can give you a better idea of your own feelings on the work — what you're attached to and protective of, and what you're not as confident about...
"I think it goes the other way too. Helping other people work through writing issues has given me some light bulb moments about my own work. For me, talking about writing (anyone's writing) is an important part of being a writer." — Leah Mol, 2018 CBC Short Story Prize winner.
More tips on editing and revising:
- Cherie Dimaline: 'Don't throw anything out'
- Samantha Mansfield: 'Ignore your inner critic'
- Christie Pashby: 'Explore why your characters matter'
Share your work and keep on writing
"We live in a world that encourages constant, mindless productivity — writers included! Don't write because everyone else is doing it, don't write what everyone else is writing. Write the story that you have to tell, the one you must tell or else you'll go to the grave regretful. Write with purpose, and if you don't have purpose, find it before writing.
"Write to change the world, or at least your parents' minds. Write to win the heart of someone you love, even if — especially — the sonofagun married someone else instead. Write politically. Write personally. Enjoy the sunlight. Take naps. And when the need to write comes upon you, seize it ferociously and do not let go." — Kai Cheng Thom, author of a place called No Homeland
More tips on writing with intention:
- 3 tips for crafting a winning story
- 5 tips for writing a great short story
- Alejandro Saravia: 'Write for yourself'
- Richard Upton: 'Write with attitude'