Writing tips gleaned from mistakes I made – Renita D’Silva

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By Renita D’Silva

Here’s some writing tips gleaned from the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned during the journey to publication:♥

1. Get the first draft down on paper. Do not worry about spelling, grammar, editing, rereading. Just get the story down. You may well have to cut most of it, but having something to work with is less daunting than a blank sheet of paper.

2. Try and ignore the self-doubt and the voice in your head telling you it’s not good enough and that no one will want to read it.

3. Aim to write a little each day. It all adds up and even fifty words are better than none at all.

4. If you are stuck – and we all are every so often – do something else. Go for a walk, read other authors. Find out what works for you, what will get those creative juices flowing again – for me it is spending time with kids (I work with children) and washing the dishes.

5. Take help where you can. Writing can be a lonely process. Join a writing group either online or at your local library. Writers’ communities are very supportive.

6. Pantser or plotter? Do what works for you. Every writer is different. Some plot. Others, like me, start off with an idea and see where it will take them. This makes for a longer, more circuitous route with more editing, but as long as you put words on paper, it doesn’t matter how they came to be there.

7. Once you are done with your manuscript, leave it for a bit. A bit of distance helps immensely and when you come back to it with fresh eyes, all those glaring things you missed before are instantly visible.

After you have penned those fabulous two words, The End:

8) Don’t send out your manuscript before it is the best it can be. Believe me, I did, and it just sets you up for a lot of heartache and disappointment. I was rejected, in most cases, not because of my writing but because of my impatience, even though I did not know this at the time.

9. Do some research regarding the market for your book before sending out your manuscript. When I finished the first draft of my debut, Monsoon Memories, I bought the Writers and Artists Yearbook and started sending out to agents, listed under ‘A’ to begin with and working my way from there, regardless of whether they were representing authors in my genre. Five minutes of research would have spared me a load of rejections.

10. Try not to be too disheartened by rejections. Easier said than done, I know. I can see now, with the benefit of hindsight, that most of the time, the agents/publishers are rejecting because of a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of your writing. Their lists being full, for example. Being disheartened only knocks the fragile confidence we writers have in our writing.

11. Do not lose faith in yourself or your writing. We all have bad days, days when the writing is rubbish, days when we cannot write. But we all write because we want to, because despite everything that goes wrong, the one time something goes right, the one time we create the perfect sentence, there is no feeling at all in the world quite like it.

12. Don’t give up. A published author is one who has just got up after each rejection, dusted himself off and tried again.

13. And here’s the best piece of writing advice I was given by my wonderful publisher, Oliver Rhodes, an absolutely fab quote which I remind myself of every so often: ‘Write a good book and you’ll be able to sell it; write a great book and readers will sell it for you.’

Renita D’Silva loves stories, both reading and creating them. She is the author of Monsoon Memories, The Forgotten Daughter, The Stolen Girl, A Sister’s Promise and A Mother’s Secret.


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