Wednesday, 1 October 2014

IWSG - Anthology

It's time for another installment of the Insecure Writers' Support Group and a very special day for the group. It's the first anniversary of the IWSG website and also three years since the first IWSG post. To mark the occasion, the team have decided to put together a very special anthology featuring the collected wisdom of the IWSG members. Many of us are contributing a 300 word piece with advice on either writing, publishing and marketing. I'm sure this will become an invaluable resource for all writers at every stage of the game.


Here is my submission, which I give the IWSG team full permission to use in the book. I hope it's deemed worthy! It's in the writing area, as I don't have too much experience in the others yet.

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Trusting your Gut

When it comes to writing, the best piece of advice I've found is to do what works for you. There are no hard and fast rules; it’s such a personal thing that after practicing for a while, hopefully some sort of instinct takes over. That said, here are some pointers that have helped me along the way which I try to bear in mind.

Show, don’t tell. I know we hear this one over and over again. One of the most useful ways to apply it is to delete the infinitive (to walk, to talk etc). Don’t say “he lifted the phone to talk to his wife”. If he’s lifting the phone, it’s pretty clear he’s going to talk to someone. Show us something about their relationship: “He lifted the phone. Would she listen this time?” You don’t even have to explicitly state who he’s phoning, as that will be shown in the dialogue.

If you like structure and timeframes to your writing, try to set a minimum word count each day so you’re know you’re getting x amount done. If you exceed it, great. One way to keep yourself moving is to leave off each session partway through a scene. That way, you always have something you can pick up again the next day.


Finally, a word about that inner editor. Some people hate theirs as a nagging voice constantly telling them they’re not good enough. I think the trick is to know when to listen. Your inner editor can tell you when something feels off, or could be tightened up, or removed. By listening at the right times, and not becoming too cocky, you will constantly be moving forward and improving as a writer. Like I said above, it comes down to instinct - and trusting your gut.

Bio: Nick Wilford is a writer, parent, freelance editor, and publisher of the fundraising anthology Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew; he can be found at his blog, Scattergun Scribblings.

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The sign-up list can be found here for the other entries. I'm looking forward to soaking up a massive wealth of advice, and I suggest you do the same. Happy IWSG day!

40 comments:

dolorah said...

Those are all good writing tips Nick. I personally need to set myself a time frame and stick to it. I seem to let all manner of inconveniences distract me.

Suzanne Furness said...

Thanks for sharing your writing tips, Nick. Show don't tell is one of the hardest to learn I think.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick - it's great IWSG site is one today .. and that an anthology is going to be produced .. it will be so helpful ..

Show don't tell and keep practising .. cheers Hilary

JeffO said...

Good advice, Nick--hope you make it in!

Lynda R Young said...

Great tips, Nick. They will make a great addition to the book.

SA Larsenッ said...

Ooh, the infamous gut. I've gotten better at listening to mine over my past five years of writing. But that doesn't mean I've mastered it by any means. I think it's an evolution in itself. Thanks for sharing your writing tips!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nick, of course this will make it into the anthology!
That's a great way to explain show instead of tell. Such a hard concept to grasp.

Sarah Foster said...

Great advice! Thanks for sharing. It's hard to find that balance of trusting your gut and ignoring that voice of doubt in your head.

SittieCates said...

This is a good contribution. Great writing tips.

Hart Johnson said...

Nice contribution, Nick! It's so true that we all need to find our own way--I've tried so many things people swear by, but 90% of them are incompatible with my style, so they get dropped later.

Laura Clipson said...

Great tips, thanks for sharing :)

Chrys Fey said...

Nice article! Trusting my gut is the best thing I've done for my writing and my career. It's actually the reason why I'm published today. :D

L. Diane Wolfe said...

i always try to end at a tense scene so I'm more apt to pick back up the next day.

Elizabeth Hein said...

Great tips, Nick. As we gain confidence, it's easier to know what works for us and our writing habits.
Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

Fundy Blue said...

Hi Nick! I'm visiting as one of the IWSG co-hosts today! Great post ~ It's so true, you've got to trust your gut! Try teaching "Show, don't tell" to third graders! LOL! It's hard enough to get it across to adults. Great example by the way! Have a good one!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Nick,

That is some very sound advice. Listening to your gut is important. And we are all guilty of TELLING too much, but keep balance in mind. The reader needs some narration too.

Diane Burton said...

Thanks for the tips, Nick. We can't hear them enough.

PK Hrezo said...

Awesome advice Nick. I think we all make the show don't tell error at some point. I still catch myself doing it.
And amen to trusting your gut! Only we as the author know what's right for our stories.

Crystal Collier said...

All good things to keep in mind.

Quanie Miller said...

"One way to keep yourself moving is to leave off each session partway through a scene. That way, you always have something you can pick up again the next day." Agreed! And I also agree with you about the inner editor. Sometimes you just gotta shut that dude up, man! Great advice and thanks for sharing!

jamieayres.com said...

Trusting your gut is key!!

Lara Lacombe said...

All excellent tips!

Sher A. Hart said...

Aha, I've never heard showing described this way. A new trick in my editing bag. Too bad it's so overloaded that I'm not sure I can still write for myself. My inner editor keeps telling me I'll do more good by fixing other people's books. So I read another and send the author my Kindle notes on the worst errors. Then I'm happy.

VR Barkowski said...

Excellent advice. I've been told that I pay too much attention to my inner editor, but my gut sense of what works is only there while I'm writing. By the time editing is underway, the emotional intensity of the scene has dissipated, and it's all mechanics. Don't need my gut for that.

VR Barkowski

Miranda Hardy said...

Very sound advice. I need that daily word count to stay on track.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic writing tips. It's sometimes hard to know when to listen and when to tune out that inner editor. She can be pushy at times! :)

Cherie Reich said...

Great tips, Nick! My inner editor is always telling me to add more details. People don't talk in empty space. Usually. LOL!

Elsie Amata said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you! My inner critic can get the best of me sometimes. Hard to shut her off when she's rambling so much. But, trusting in it can be so helpful too.

I love your explanation of showing. You summed it up perfectly.

Medeia Sharif said...

Fantastic contribution. I believe in my inner voice and gut. I've suffered for not listening to it.

J Q Rose said...

Three great writing tips. It certainly brings awareness to my own writing process. Thanks for sharing.

worddreams said...

Nicely explained, Nick. Thanks.

Loni Townsend said...

Great advice and excellent example with showing. Too often, I can never tell what is showing and what is telling. It's nice to see examples to analyze. Thanks!

cleemckenzie said...

Great contribution to the book, Nick. Can't wait to see all of these in a collection.

Jenni Enzor said...

Great advice! It's so true we need to trust out gut. When I was first starting out, I tended to be super cautious about "following the rules," but sometimes you need to break them.
I really loved what you said about not ignoring your inner editor!

Empty Nest Insider said...

I'm still working with the "show don't tell" concept, and appreciate your detailed example. I agree that it's also important to listen to your gut, and to avoid second guessing yourself. Thanks for the great tips, Nick!

Julie

Julie Flanders said...

Thanks for sharing this great advice. I think it's especially helpful to remember that there are no hard and fast rules - we all have to do what works best for us.

Mina Burrows said...

Really good advice. I have issues with trusting my gut. It's a daily struggle. Excellent tips too!

Good to hear from you Nick. Hope all is well!

Gwen Gardner said...

Excellent advice, Nick. I like how you explained the show don't tell with the "to walk" etc. Good thing to keep in mind.

Michelle Wallace said...

Good advice, Nick.
I know that I still have my "moments" with show not tell...
Hope you're well! *waving*

Melissa said...

Great post, Nick. :)