Published by Twenty 7
ebook : 15 December 2015 | paperback : 8th September 2016
Five Writing Commandments I Live By
The challenge of choosing just five writing commandments to live by is a reflection of the writer’s task as a whole. So much is about making specific choices, about what to write and how exactly to write it; about everything from particular words and punctuation to judgements regarding structure, characterisation, pacing and so on. While being aware of the endless possibilities, the writer has to move on from the simply pondering stage and definitively commit words to paper, feeling in that moment it’s their best shot. While the final version of the novel or poem in print may be seen as an enduring legacy, the practice of writing teaches a lot about flux and the randomness of choices. While you have to settle on something, you know there’s always potential for other revisions. So much is really not set in stone, especially when it comes to personal writing commandments!
So saying, I’ve tried to outline five connected guiding ideas below that I’ve found helpful to remind myself of when writing.
Make writing a priority
This one probably sounds obvious, but even when you describe yourself as a writer, you can easily get side-tracked by yourself and others. There can be no end of essential, worthy jobs your procrastinating mood can persuade yourself are urgent – people and paperwork needing immediate attention, a home that deserves so much more love, an exercise deprived pet. And there are no end of writerly activities to get involved in – writers’ groups, readers’ groups, courses, workshops, social media. It can be very inspiring and supportive to exchange writing ideas and there’s no denying that when it comes to promoting your work you have to get out there, but the core of a writer’s life is thinking, drafting and redrafting. If finishing a novel or poetry collection is what you know will truly satisfy you, you owe yourself the achievement.
Discover the things that fascinate you, and enjoy writing about them
Find subject matter that motivates you to stay with it. Crafting a novel or a poem can be a very demanding project and however much you enjoy it, there’s a lot of sheer graft and stamina required. To sustain the will and energy to complete, it’s important that you’re gripped by a question, a theme, a character. If you’re half-hearted, it’ll show. To hook in a reader, you have to be hooked yourself by your writing focus. Go where the energy is.
Trust yourself, your writing voice
There’s always a tension in writing between expressing yourself in your own terms and awareness of a possible audience. Especially if you’re hoping to sell your work and you write within a specific genre, you may be even more conscious of the demands of a market and the kind of formulas that have achieved success. If you aspire to originality in what you read and write, you have to hold your own and believe that your unique take matters. As Barbara Kingsolver said: ‘Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.’
Discover a lifestyle that supports creativity
Being a writer is an ongoing job running parallel to all the other jobs in your life that depends on a sharp-subtle awareness and imaginative stores. Everything that happens, all that you feel and observe can be grist for the mill. While some people may consider what you do as the equivalent of a ‘wee’ leisurely hobby, actually you know how mentally and emotionally taxing full-on writing and editing can be. As far as possible, you have to attempt to look after mind and body, so you have the verve to draw on. Cultivate and value your inner life. Allow regular time to read quality work and write.
Be open to receiving feedback
There’s no doubt about it, having your creation criticised can feel demoralising and hurtful. You’ve invested so much of yourself, so any sweeping negative comments or trivial nit-picking can hit hard personally. At the same time, listening to an external view offered in the right spirit can really help you to improve. You always have to bear in mind that your content and style may not be to everyone’s taste, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. At the end of the day, you’re the author and can choose to accept what helps you and what doesn’t. And who, actually, you’d really be best to avoid!
A story of loss, longing, falling in love and finding a place to call home. And, most importantly, the power of the relationships that help is along the way
This is the story of Jacques Lafitte, a young French boy who is orphaned and torn away from everything he knows. Forced to move to England to live with his guardian – the proud and distant Oliver Clark – Jacques find himself alone in a strange country, and a strange world.
As years go by, Jacques becomes part of the Clark family and learns to love life again.
But then his feelings for Rebecca – Oliver’s daughter – become stronger.
And this development has the power to bring them together or tear the whole family apart…
For fans of Boyhood, Jacques is a moving and unique coming-of-age story about one boy’s struggle to find his place in the world.
About the author:
Tanya Ravenswater was born in County Down, Northern Ireland. She first graduated in modern languages from St Andrews University. She has worked as a nurse, in bereavement support and counselling education. With a love of words since childhood, inspired by Nature and fascinated by the diversity of inner worlds and relationships, Tanya writes fiction and poetry for adults and children. She has published a collection of short stories for women, and has also been short-listed and published in the Cheshire Prize anthologies. Her children’s poem, Badger, was the winner of the 2014-15 Cheshire Prize for Literature.