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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Learning to Write III

Omit All Useless Words.

Take chances. Don’t be lazy. Tell the whole truth. Always remember: there is nothing to be afraid of. It is not easy to write about emotion and keep it cliché-free; write down whatever comes into your head. Double-check typing mistakes to see if you can usefully leave them in. Your sub-conscious sometimes forces your fingers into certain patterns. Perform the ‘so what’ test.


Remember: Established writers get rejected as well.

Read Good Books. Guard your time. Feed your imagination. Work regular hours. Go for a walk. Read good books. Don’t listen to other writers. Find your own way.

10 Responses to “Learning to Write III”

  1. Jennyta says:

    I love these insights into writing. Please don’t stop.

  2. Lee says:

    This useless words rule: I wish it were that simple! In which way useless? Who decides? There are plenty of ‘useless’ words in wonderful writing, in work by Richard Powers or McEwan or even Hollinghurst, all powerful writers.

    And I like David Mitchell’s take on cliché: it can be a powerful tool, if used sparingly, if mined and adapted carefully. After all, cliché often touches on something that resonates in the reader.

    But I agree with almost everything else you say.

  3. skint writer says:

    “Don’t be lazy. Tell the whole truth.”

    That just about sums it up for me. Truth is the most important element in fiction and it needs effort to make it real.

  4. Good advice John, This allows us to develop our own writing character without being influenced by others writing style.

  5. Free says:

    You said all the things I needed to hear right now. Thank you. I might have to put this up next to the PC!

  6. Pearl says:

    Good tips but I don’t know whether to listen to you or not. 😉

    Cliches are like foreign phrases. They can be used in italics with knowledge of their specialness.

  7. patry says:

    Thank you for this. There are so many wonderful things on your blog I don’t know what to link first.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Such great advice, thanks.

  9. john baker says:

    OK, clichés are not a forbidden country, but they are only useful, occasionally, in the hands of a practised master.

  10. paisley says:

    Makes sense – finding your own way is only possible if you write your truth.