Set Long Term Goals

Nothing in the creative world happens fast. Make a five year plan – and try to have a novel published, or screenplay sold, or play commissioned in that time frame! 

Write what you know!

Share your experiences with your audience, and you’ve got the best chance of accurately representing reality, and making a valuable comment. 

Balance Comedy and Tragedy

The best writers use both to great effect. If you’re writing a tragedy don’t forget to get a fool in there, and if you’re writing comedy get a Marvin the Paranoid Android in. 

Write in Different Forms and Genres

Maybe you’re actually better at comedy than tragedy? Maybe you’re better at screenplays than poems. Who knows? Give it a go. 

Co-write

If you’re running out of energy and motivation, consider finding a writing partner, and borrowing a little enthusiasm from them. Try to find people with lots of motivation though – otherwise you might end up doing all the work! 

Maintain Balance in Your Life

Don’t burn out! Writing is great, but listen to the inner screech of burnout when it appears. If you need to rest, rest. If you really don’t want to write, then don’t!

Meditate, don’t Self-Medicate

Writing requires a lot of stillness and focus. Writers famously self medicate to achieve this state, but a non medical way of accessing focus is meditation. 10-20 mins of meditation prior to writing can settle you physically and mentally. 

Reliable Writing Tool

Try to get access to a comfortable writing environment and reliable computer. Technical difficulties are really going to slow you down. 

Try Writing by Hand

Lots of famous authors describe how they write the first draft of everything by hand. Hemingway said he liked this technique because it allowed him an opportunity to rewrite as he typed everything into the typewriter. Many writers say they feel closer to the work when it’s hand written.

Interrogate your Favourite Writers, and their Work

If you figure out exactly what you like, and exactly why you like it, it’s going to make you a much better writer

Read / see Films / Plays 

You gotta. Be honest, you still going to see plays? Bet you stopped because it’s too expensive and the thought of trying to convince someone to come with you makes you want to internally combust. Also covid. You’re probably still watching lots of films and TV online. How much are you actually reading though? Less than you did, right? Perhaps nothing at all? If the cost is slowing you down, get back into that library. There’s also ‘library genesis’ but you didn’t hear about it here. 

Get off / Limit Social Media

You will be amazed how many extra hours you get back by disconnecting. Feeling tired and rushed all the time? See if your phone or computer can tell you how long you’ve spent looking at them. Shutting down social media, or limiting it to one check a day, can make you feel like you’re living in 2003 again, if you remember such a thing. 

Exclude Toxic People from your Life

You will free up so much time and mental real estate! Just do it. It hurts and you will suffer for it, but in the long run it’s better. Toxic people are the people who want you to apologise to them right now (think about it), and the people who would laugh if you told them what you most want to achieve in life.

The best people are the people who say ‘How can I help you to achieve that’ and the good people are the ones who say ‘Good on you.’ If someone tries to help you, hold on to that person! I’m drinking write wine on a Sunday afternoon and listening to ‘Music for Airports’ by Eno, which is why this is suddenly veering off course and into maudlin territory. 

Join a Writer’s Group

Pretty self explanatory. Friends who like the things you do! Be generous to the group and share what you know too! 

Teach Writing

Sometimes the best way to learn is to teach. Students can teach teachers a lot. And while you are preparing your class, you’ll have to learn the material yourself too! 

Review

See if you can get paid to write reviews of plays / films / novels. This will force you to think deeply about the works you’re reviewing, and research them thoroughly. Plus you get to actually see plays, and get a little money

Study

Treat yourself to a creative writing course. There are loads of great ones out there and plenty that don’t cost all that much. Try to join ones that have lots of people, perhaps online. They can be very cheap.

Mentorship

Or if you’re looking for more personalised feedback, maybe consider hiring a mentor. Personally, I’ve found that mentors don’t tend to know all that much. I’m always completely amazed by how little they know actually. But there’s got to be some good ones out there. The best are probably those that have done it themselves. Get a novelist to teach you how to write a novel, not a publisher. Get a publisher to teach you how to publish. 

Write Drunk and Edit Sober

I don’t actually do this and it’s a terrible recommendation but it was fun to type and Hemingway said it apparently.

Get lots of exercise to Clear the Head

This is much better advice. Remember to get out for an hour or two of exercise per day. It’s a stress reliever and replenisher of the creative juices and the soul.

Enjoy! Your life is short and you should spend it doing things that make you happy. Remember happiness? 


Oliver Adams

Letter Review was founded by Oliver Adams, who is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing, casual academic, and guest lecturer at the University of New South Wales. Oliver Adams has had short stories published in leading literary journals such as Overland, Southerly, Seizure, and TEXT. He has had novels long listed for major awards such as the KYDUMA, has received government funding to produce plays from Create NSW and screenplays from Screen NSW, and has performed / produced professional work at major theatrical venues such as the Sydney Opera House.