Lisa Jewell's 12 Writing Tips

Lisa Jewell’s 12 Writing Tips

We hope you enjoy this post, which includes English writer, Lisa Jewell’s 12 writing tips.

Lisa Jewell is a British author of popular fiction. She was born 19 July 1968.

Lisa is the internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found YouThe Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. Her debut novel, Ralph’s Party, was an instant Sunday Times  (London) bestseller. Her latest book is The Night She Disappeared.

Follow her on Twitter: @lisajewelluk

When we found these tips on her publisher’s website, we wanted to share them with you.

She says: ‘One of the points I make later in my tips is that writing a book is not easy. It truly isn’t. I thought it would be when I started writing, I thought it would be a doddle and I was very, very wrong. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to bear this in my mind when you start.’

Here are Lisa Jewell’s 12 writing tips.

Lisa Jewell’s 12 Writing Tips

“1. Read a lot.

Read stuff that’s similar to what you’d like to write and then read stuff that’s more literary, too. While you’re reading, analyse what it is that you like and don’t like about the book. Work out how the writer moves the story along, gets you into the heads of their characters, describes feelings and places. Don’t let the words wash over you – treat it like studying.”

“2. Write about what you know.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Unless you’re very keen on research and are willing to learn other subjects in great depth, stick to your own experiences and feelings – you’ll sound more convincing and sincere.”

“3. Have your own voice.

Don’t try to be the next Nick Hornby or the new Martin Amis. Just be yourself, and if people like the sound of your voice and what your voice is saying, then they’ll like your book. Agents and publishers are always looking for something ‘different’, a fresh viewpoint and a new voice, not just re-hashed versions of stuff that’s gone before.”

“4. Do a creative writing course.

You don’t have to do this – most writers don’t. But I did one (one evening a week – three terms – adult ed. college) and it really helped me. It taught me to get into the habit of writing regularly, it gave me the confidence to have other people read what I’d written and accept constructive criticism (very important – criticism is the only way you’ll learn) and it was a good way of discovering whether or not I could actually write well enough to attempt a novel.”

“5. Decide on a genre.

Do you want to write a thriller? A romance? A drama? With a book like mine, it was more important to concentrate on characters, as they were what led the book. The storyline came from them. However, with a thriller or a drama or a crime novel, you’ll have to do much more forward-planning – map the whole novel out before you start.”

“6. Write the ending first.

This is what a lot of writers do. I don’t, personally, but it might work for you.”

“7. Do a first draft.

Again, this isn’t something I do – but most other writers do. It’s like laying down the skeleton and then going back afterwards to put the meat on it. Start with a synopsis and take it from there.”

“8. Don’t be afraid to self-edit.

My creative writer teacher called it ‘killing your babies’. You might have a cute sentence that you really like, or a character who you’re particularly fond of, but you have to be objective enough to see when something isn’t working and just scrap it. Every time I write a book, I run two documents concurrently – the manuscript and another doc that I call ‘scrap’ and every time I cut something out of the MS I paste it straight into ‘scrap’. ‘Scrap’ invariably ends up being a bigger document than the MS! Just because you’ve written something, it isn’t set in stone. You need to be flexible, even to the extent of cutting out an entire character if necessary. The MS should be a fluid thing, that evolves and changes all the time. Don’t become too attached to things.”

“9. Be disciplined.

Even if you can only spare a few hours a week, make sure that you sit at your computer for as long as you’ve said you will. You’ll find that you spend a lot of time staring into space, playing computer games, checking your email and making phone calls. But as long as you’re there at your computer, you’ll write when it comes to you.”

“10. Keep a notebook.

Carry a book around with you, because, without wishing to sound too poncey, inspiration does tend to strike when you’re least expecting it and by the time you get back to your computer, you’ll have forgotten it.”

“11. Don’t give up.

Writing a book is not easy. It sometimes looks like it is when you’re reading an ‘easy read’ book like mine. It was actually reading High Fidelity that inspired me to write a novel – Nick Hornby made it look like a piece of piss! I soon realised that it’s incredibly hard. It’s frustrating. You can spend a whole day writing and then just delete it all at the end of the day because you know it’s wrong. I deleted 100 pages of my second novel while I was writing it – three months work – that hurt!

You can get stuck for days on end without a clue how to move to the next section – you know what you want to happen next but have no idea how to get there. It’s a bit like being lost on a journey, really. But the thing to remember is that all this is perfectly normal, and even though it feels like you’ll never finish, actually, YOU WILL, and that’s the key. Finishing is the key. That’s what most people who want to write a novel never do. And just the very act of putting the last full stop on the last sentence puts you leagues ahead of everybody else, even if you’re not the greatest writer in the world.”

“12. Give it to trusted friends to read.

I did this, and it helped no end. Other writers say they’d rather eat their own leg than let someone see a ‘work in progress’. It’s up to you!”

The Last Word

I hope Lisa Jewell’s 12 writing tips help you with your writing.

TIP: If you want help writing a book, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.

Source for tips: Penguin / Source for image: Lisa Jewell

 by Amanda Patterson

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