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Writers’ & Artists’ Guide to How to Write by William Ryan

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How to Write

William Ryan

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TIME MANAGEMENT AND TARGETS

● Devote a specific period of time to writing as often as you can.
● If you’re writing at home, make sure your family or housemates know your schedule.
● Set yourself targets – sessional, weekly, monthly, and even annual – for both writing time and word count.
● Give yourself a deadline. Set a target date for the completion of your novel based on your schedule and targets.
● To hit your deadlines and minimise distractions:
● Invest in noise-reduction headphones or simple ear plugs to lessen background noise.
● If it helps, listen to music.
● Install an internet blocker app on all internet-enabled devices.

FIND A PLACE TO WRITE

● Write anywhere and everywhere.
● Be flexible and write when the opportunity presents itself (e.g. on the train, or while you are waiting for an appointment).
● Try and find a well-lit space for yourself with a suitable desk or table and chair.
● If you’ re using a laptop, get a stand so that the screen is at eye level, and use a separate keyboard and a mouse.
● Take regular breaks away from your desk.

WRITING PRACTICE

● Use the publishing industry’ s standard format right from the very start.
● A serif font (usually Times New Roman, 12pt) is easy to read and work with: double-space your text.
● Indent the first line, except for the first paragraph of a chapter,
or after a line break (e.g. new scene).
● Quantity often leads to quality, so just get the words down and edit later.
● Rewrite as you go along.
● Review and, if necessary, rewrite your work from the previous session as a way to ‘warm up’ before you write new material.
● Review your work every 10,000 words.
● Keep a ‘cuts’ file. If you want to remove a paragraph, scene or even a chapter from your novel, remove it but don’t ever delete it. Instead, save to a cuts file or folder for future use: you never know when it might come in handy.
● Look after your work.
● Save your work continually throughout a writing session.
● Back up your work in at least three different ways (e.g. laptop, emails and external drive).
● Make use of the cloud or online storage systems such as DropBox or Google Drive.
● Scan or take photos of any handwritten notes or text to create digital copies that you can find easily.
● Software apps can help with your writing, organisation, productivity and/or editing. See ‘Software for writers’ on pages 228 – 31 in Resources for more information.
● Use the word processor’s in-built grammar and spellcheck tools to clean up the text as you go.
● Always keep a notebook (and a pen) to hand, ready for when inspiration strikes.
● Join a writers’ group but treat other members (and their work) with respect.
● Consider enrolling on a writing course.

(c) William Ryan

This is an extract from Writers’ & Artists’ Guide to How to Write: How to plan, structure and write your novel is published by Bloomsbury and is out now (Paperback: £16.99)

About Writers’ & Artists’ Guide to How to Write:

How to Write is all about writing for publication, it concentrates on advice on how to construct, craft and draft novels across all genres, but the examples and details on what to consider when writing for any audience means it is relevant to writing in all its forms, including books for children and non-fiction.

The advice and techniques suggested in this book have been tested in practice by author William Ryan, successful novelist, and creative writing tutor at City University and Guardian Masterclasses and are an extension of the ‘Your Novel’ writing course he has delivered with W&A over several years.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

William Ryan is the author of five novels, including the Captain Korolev series which have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year. His latest books are A House of Ghosts (2018). William teaches on the Crime Writing Masters at City University in London and the Writers & Artists ‘Your Novel’ writing course.

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