Cast your mind back a few weeks for me.
It’s a Thursday afternoon in mid-June. A sunny day. There’s a crisp little breeze creaking its way through the window. You’re sitting at your desk, contemplating another cup of coffee, when a new email pings into your inbox*.
It’s from me, Turia! You excitedly click it open, and begin to chuckle, and smile and nod in recognition at my words. You’ve never seen such eloquent prose! And from such a humble, down-to-earth, non-braggy girl!
And then your eyes trail across to the Big Main Point of the email.
The bolded lines: “If you want to write, write! If you want to be an ice cream taster, start tasting a bunch of ice cream.”
“Hmmmm” you think, your brow furrowed in contemplation, “Surely she has more tips for writing than ‘just write’. No? And damn it, now I want ice cream.”
Well, as it turns out, I do! Have tips for writing that is, not ice cream (I ate it all last night. Double choc with an espresso swirl. It was delicious).
So, if you’ve ever wondered how I write (books, blogs, these letters etc), these are my tips, aka how I do it:
I jot down my ideas in my phone.
You know how old school journos were always walking around with pencils tucked behind their ears? That’s cos you’ve gotta be ready to take notes when inspo strikes!
Most of my ideas come when I‘m not sitting down at my computer. So, if I‘m breastfeeding Rahiti, and I think of an interesting angle or I think of a beautiful sentence, I’ll quickly jot it down in my phone so I don’t forget it. Sometimes I‘ll turn that idea into a whole chapter for a book, other times it will sit there unused. That’s OK!
Oh! And I just use the Notes app on my phone. Yeah, I know there are heaps of other fancy apps out there, but Notes suits me. I use a Mac/iPhone/iPad – so if I write a note on my iPhone, it’ll be on Notes on my Mac. They talk to each other.
I try to write every day.
This is where I give you that annoying advice again.
Writers write. Every day. When they feel like it, and especially when they don’t. That’s how they get better at it. It’s how I got better at it too. Honestly? I aim for fifteen minutes a day. That’s it. If I write for an hour, it’s a win, but we can’t win everyday.
I used to do my fifteen minutes first thing in the morning, but now that I have the kids, I find mid-morning is best for me. It’s still the first thing I do in my work day. Also, I use 750 Words (which I‘m sure you’ve seen me recommend before). It’s great for building a writing habit.
I don’t buy into the whole “I‘m only creative when I feel drawn by a full moon and I‘ve been burning sage and lavender for 43 minutes”.
Maybe that works for some people, but for me it doesn’t. I‘m more of the boring and predictable type: you do something every day; you get better at it.
I don’t “edit” myself as I go.
I know some people do. I‘m not one of them. I pretty much brain dump everything out of my head. Sometimes I‘ll be in the middle of writing a sentence and my brain will say THAT SENTENCE SUCKS! but… I keep it. I get it out first and then I fix it up after. And so, the editing/polishing process comes after the creative/writing process. I‘m a simple gal. Everything I‘ve ever achieved has been a “One Thing At A Time” kind of deal.
Some tech-y tools can be helpful!
If I’m travelling, and not taking my computer, I’ll take my Logitech keyboard. This makes me wayyyyy faster at typing (cos um, I’m using a keyboard, instead of just a combination of squinting/stabbing my iPhone).
You don’t need as much time as you think.
Look, not to be awkward, but I‘ve only got three fingers, so I‘m pretty sure you’d type or write faster than me. Fifteen minutes is more than enough time to write something meaningful and interesting (But! No editing! Not yet! Remember: get it out first, fix it up later).
Having a second pair of eyes to help you is invaluable.
I‘m lucky enough to work with a gun content gal (that’s Grace in my team). Maybe for you, that person is your Mum/partner/friend/goal attack from your netball team.
The point is, if you want to write, team up with someone else who wants to write as well. This way you can read/edit/feedback/censor/say “WHAT IS THIS DRIVEL?” to each other.
And if that person is not someone you know in real life, try searching in Facebook groups for writers, or use a tool like Focusmate to find a group of writers for accountability.
That’s it! That’s how I write my weekly letters*, and how I wrote my new book Happy (and other ridiculous aspirations).
At the end of it all, the Big Main Point still remains, if you want to write, write!
I look forward to reading your words someday soon,
*Is your inbox not going “ding!” with a new letter from me each Thursday? You gotta join the letter gang mate! It’s the best thing I do every week – and very often, the best thing landing in inboxes across the country. Join us here. We love new gang members!
PPS – There’s only one a couple of weeks until my new book Happy is officially out in the world! If you’d like to get ahead of the crowd and preorder a copy (you wonderful little seahorse!) you can do so right here.