This year I’m teaching a course called Write Your Book in 2011 (go to for details). I have a wonderful group of 11 committed fellow-writers who have decided to stop talking (or thinking) about writing a book and just write one. Preparing the course for them and meeting up with them weekly over the last few weeks has made me think more carefully about what new writers need to know about the writing process. “New writers” may be people who have been writing for years behind closed doors, people who have had an epiphany about a book idea and want to get started, or those who want to take their writing more seriously and spend time with others doing the same.

So, for the next ten days I’ll be blogging about my top ten tips for getting started or getting back on track with your writing.

Tip Number One – Write for Yourself First and Others Second

As I’ve said before on this blog, so I won’t labour the point, you need to write because you love to write. Perhaps you love the process of getting words on the page and then playing around with them, perhaps you find the writing cathartic or maybe you love the way you can lose yourself in the story for hours or minutes even though you’re still sitting at your desk or in a coffee shop with your laptop. All of these are perfectly good reasons to write. Good enough for you to give yourself permission to take time off from the daily grind and spend some time doing something you love.

 Write the words you want to write – not what you think you should write, or (initially) what you think others would like to read. Adhering to ‘rules’ about writing means you censor your ideas way too early in the process and thinking too much about the reader in the first draft of anything will strangle your writer’s voice. A few years ago at a conference I attended at Varuna -The Writers’ Centre ( Peter Bishop, the then director talked about a “writer’s draft” and a “reader’s draft”, which is a great way to think about the writing process. When you’re making notes and drafting, you’re writing for yourself not for anyone else. This is the stage of exploration and working-it-out-as-you-go. It’s only later you need to think about the reader, in the revision and editing stages.

So, tip number one, write for yourself and write what you love.

See you tomorrow for Tip Number Two.

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