|By Antonio Litterio
1. Get Hooked – expressing yourself in words is better for you than eating sugar, and just as addictive. Instead of eating cake at coffee-time, start keeping a diary or jot down ideas for your novel. Make writing your new regular, unbreakable daily habit. It doesn’t matter if you can only afford to spend a few minutes on it. Consistency is the key. Set aside some time every day to write. The amount of time you can spend has less to do with your results than your determination. Remember, the more you put into your work, the more you’ll get back in return. Nothing beats the satisfaction of finishing a project. If you can only schedule enough spare time to make notes, do it. Nothing you write will be wasted. When you finally sit down to enjoy a good, long writing session, you’ll never need to waste time waiting for inspiration. You’ll have loads of things down on paper already. The words will be ready to dance across that beautiful blank page for you. The feeling that gives is better than the icing on any cake!
2. Get Organised – dedicate an area where you can write every day. It doesn’t have to be large. Just make sure there’s enough room to keep your books (see Tip Three) and paperwork to hand. A permanent space is best. If you have to share your writing refuge with other people or projects, keep your things in a cardboard box so you can stow them away easily at the end of each session. It’s amazing how fast paperwork builds up, so you’ll need some way of keeping track. Use large envelopes labelled with chapter headings or character names to keep everything in order.
3. Be Prepared – make sure your writing kingdom’s well stocked, and don’t let anyone borrow your stuff. They say they’ll give it back, but can you guarantee they will? It’s better not to weaken. Show them (nicely, of course!) how to be better organised and get their own supplies, like you. You’ll be giving them a lesson in responsibility. At the most basic level you’ll need plenty of pencils (pens run out, or leak), a sharpener, an eraser, and paper. Sometimes nothing beats that connection with words which appear from a sharp point onto a real surface under your hand. Get a good dictionary, a thesaurus and a book on punctuation such as Getting The Point by Jenny Haddon and Elizabeth Whiteside, or Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Don't rely on the library for books you'll need all the time. While you can use online resources, try looking for cheap second-hand copies of real books. They'll help with your off-line sessions, or when your computer fails. That’s when the best ideas always arrive!
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