Top Tens

For those of you who remember Top of The Pops, I need you to get into the mood. Remember Dave Lee Travis? No? Just me then…

Imagine the countdown music. It goes something like this:

Na Na Na Na – Nah, Nah, Nah! Na Na Na Na – Nah, Nah, Nah! (Repeat repeatedly)

Top Ten Tips For The Unpublished Writer

  1. Never lose faith. You are a great writer.
  2. Read – preferably with your favourite snack on hand.
  3. Know what you’re writing about – your story. Be able to answer the question ‘So, what’s your story about?’ in a couple of snappy sentences.
  4. Know your audience.
  5. Know the difference between writing and editing.
  6. Choose your preferred agent and don’t give up.
  7. Write what you want to write – not what you think is trendy or commercial.
  8. Avoid people who do not support your dreams. They don’t have to ‘get’ them but they do have to support them.
  9. Join a writers group for feedback– real life or online.
  10. Write something every day, remembering to use your senses…

    Ready again? And now…Cue the music. Na Na Na Na – Nah Nah Nah!

Top Ten Tips For The Published Writer

  1. Remember all of the top ten tips of the unpublished.
  2. Keep in touch with your agent and editor. Remember their birthdays.
  3. Never read Amazon reviews. I mean NEVER read them and in the event that you do - NEVER respond to them.
  4. Do not ask your agent to explain the term ‘returns’.
  5. Ignore the ‘bestsellers’ unless of course you are listed. Then feel free to embrace them. In print. In public. In Trafalgar Square.
  6. Don’t obsess about whether your agent/editor will like your current WIP as you’re writing it. Do you like it? You’re a published writer. You count.
  7. Sell yourself! Sell yourself! Sell yourself!
  8. Don’t stick your fingers in your ears and ignore the fact you have a deadline. Not a good plan.
  9. Write even when you don’t want to because YOU ARE PUBLISHED. You have an audience waiting for your next work of art.
  10. Limit internet activity and by this I mean blogging, tweeting, facebooking etc etc. to max of one hour a day. Try not to cyber hop. It’s distracting.
    (This should really be in the above list too, but that would have made it eleven top ten tips which would have been odd at best.)

And now cue different music. Something less jaunty. Like the Death March?

Top Ten Things For Writers To Avoid (Published Or Unpublished)

  1. Morning television. It is the devils fare, produced mostly by men for women who want to write but will watch any old crap in order to avoid doing said writing.
  2. Sky plus re-runs of Ricky Whittle’s Argentine Tango on Strictly Come Dancing. It is a distraction. Worse than Facebook, Twitter and blogging combined – although far more pleasurable and very easy on the eye and good research for future sex scenes.
  3. Chocolate before 11am. It just leaves you wanting more. A bit like number two really...
  4. Blogger, Email, Facebook, Twitter etc etc. Pure procrastination tools.
  5. Answering the phone. Let the answer-phone get it.
  6. Thinking of food. Bad idea. Leaves you wanting some. A bit like number two really...
  7. Answering the door. Could be the window cleaner looking for cash which you inevitably won’t have at that moment in time. All that time wasted on explanations and apologies. Unless of course it’s Ricky Whittle. Then answer the door and make no apologies.
  8. Carbs after 6pm. ‘Writer’s ass’ is bad enough without adding to the problem with excess pounds.
  9. Too Much Booze. It is a well known fact that it’s difficult to write under the foggy haze of a hangover.
  10. Gyms. Go for a long walk instead. Much better for the brain and the writing synapse thingys. Awakens your senses. And you meet characters who walk dogs.

I could go on all day.

Top ten favourite snacks for writers? Top ten ways of describing a wintry day? Top ten writers blogs? Top ten tools of the trade? Top ten Strictly Dancing Celebritys?

Okay, I’m suffering from ‘Whittle-itus’ but for those of you who haven’t seen it, have a look. He’s my number one. *Sigh*

Frailty – thy name is Fionnuala…


Fiona Mackenzie. Writer said...

Brilliant tips, thank you.

I can't see Ricky in the same way you do. We were neighbours while we were in the RAF. I will say that his dad is even better looking though:)

Rachel said...

DLT. The Hairy Cornflake. That brings back memories. And not necessarily good ones. In fact thinking about him may have created writer's block.... ;)

Administrator said...

LOL, Fionnuala, some of those really made me chuckle. Is there anything in your life apart from chocolate and Ricky Whittle?

Some good advice too, not all of it easy too. But that's the good thing about this time of year - it makes us take stock, think about what we could do better and strive to achieve that goal.

I loved TOTP, especially in the good old days when the cameraman used to concentrate on the audience's dancing.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Great lists, Fionnuala - esp. the last one. And very well timed - I'm sitting here gearing up to write and 'just' doodling around on the internet and dreaming of chocolate before beginning...

Karen said...

Fabulous tips which I will try desperately to adhere to - apart from the one about Ricky Whittle of course. I can't even remember what you said, only that you mentioned him. That was enough ... thank you :o)

Caroline Green said...

I'd never heard of that geezer [not being a SCD watcher - is that a punishable offence? I fear it may be] but I agree he is most easy on the eye.

Ah, the days when TOTP on Christmas Day was not to be missed seem soooo long ago.
Oh hang on, it WAS so long ago..!

Rosalind Adam said...

Thanks for those lists, funny, true, useful... but then I shouldn't be doing this, should I? I should be writing instead... What the heck. I'm thinking of Ricky Whittle now so writing's all done for today. (Did I just read that someone doesn't watch SCD?!!Gulp gasp and what am I going to do next week?)

Dan Holloway said...

So the thing I take away from this is that if you're unpublished snacks are good; if you're published they're bad.

Not an incentive, really, is it? :p

Julie P said...

Fantastic lists! And so true - got to keep the faith and keep writing and moving forward.

Julie xx

emmadarwin said...

Great stuff, and so true... (Except that I've no idea when my agent's and editor's birthdays are. Does that make me a Bad Author? But I don't think they know mine either.)

Jenzarina said...

Great post!
I don't have a TV and so live in an X-Factor and SCD-less world... but that doesn't stop me from procrastinating when naughty bloggers put up YouTube links!

Back to editing the Story That Won't Behave...

Rosy T said...

What brilliant tips, Fionnuala!

Sheila Norton said...

Love it, Fionnuala. Sigh. Do I really have to avoid chocolate, carbs after 6pm and too much booze? Can't a writer have any pleasures in life? ;) But thank goodness I need to avoid the gym. That's a relief! x

DT said...

I started a list on procrastionation but couldn't make it past the planning stage. :o)