Throughout my writing career, I’ve devoured countless blog posts, podcasts, and interviews by authors talking about the advice they received when starting out. Learning from mentors helps us to improve and evolve in our chosen field, and I still recall the advice given to me at the start of my writing journey.
In 2019, to honour my mentors and help the next generation of writers’ young and old, I started a feature whereby established authors shared their words of wisdom and top ten writing tips.
It was a huge success and I’m delighted to bring the feature back for a second season!
Meet Frank Prem
Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet for more than forty years. When not writing or reading his poetry to an audience, he fills his time by working as a psychiatric nurse.
He has been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies, in Australia and a number of other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as ‘spoken word’.
He and his wife live in the beautiful township of Beechworth in northeast Victoria (Australia).
A note from Frank, “When I first considered creating a list of my top 10 writing tips for a new writer, I wasn’t sure if I had as many as ten to offer.
It soon became apparent, however, that I can bring to mind quite a lot of things that I learned through trial and error and confusion, that perhaps could have been learnt more easily, or cleverly if I’d known a little more about what I was trying to do and to become.
Some things can’t be avoided. Each person has to learn for themselves, no matter how much advice might be available to them. For others, perhaps there are better ways. In any case, here are my ten thoughts.”
Frank’s Top 10 Writing Tips:
- When you write, try to remember that it isn’t for yourself, or a private journal, or for a publication. It is for a reader. When you write you are having a conversation with a reader. Give a little thought to what it is you want them to see, think, feel. Even if the reader turns out to be an older version of yourself, give thought to what you want to tell them, how you want your thoughts to come across to them.
- Read your work aloud to yourself at least, but to others if they are available. You will hear the rhythms of what you have written when you read it aloud, and pick up obvious problems in flow and storyline. If you can’t sensibly and easily read it aloud, neither will your readership be able to read the work. Your writing is a form of communication and it has to . . . communicate. When you are reading aloud, try to identify your own ‘voice’. That’s what will make your writing unique. Readers will look for it as a distinguishing feature of your work.
- Don’t be afraid to seek feedback from others, but be aware that not all feedback – critique in particular – is helpful. There are many people and places offering critique for any kind of writing. Many are wonderfully helpful to a young writer. There are some, though, that believe deconstruction of the submitted writing is the only way to offer constructive critique. Rip it apart, identify all the flaws, rewrite more in the preferred style of the critique writer, and submit once more . . . A good critique will ask questions of you and your work. It will not insist on providing answers.
- Love your writing, and the process of it. Not every writing project you attempt will turn out well, or finish the way you might want them to. Not all will be competition winners or published, but you will learn with every one of them and every step, so long as you stay in love with your work. Writing can be a frustrating craft, but it brings wonderful rewards as well, and a sense of accomplishment. Be the novelist, poet, storyteller that you want to be with pride and joy.
- Be patient in learning your craft. When you want to have some electrical or plumbing work performed in your home, who would you choose to do that work? A tradesman who has completed an apprenticeship and has years of experience, or someone who has had a look at something similar on the internet and thinks he can probably do a pretty good job? I have heard it said that it takes 10,000 hours to learn a trade well. To become an expert. What does this tell you about your development as a writer?
- Don’t get trapped too early into a genre or a particular writing form. Try short stories, poetry, flash fiction, and longer pieces. It will take a long time to really know what your writing strengths might be. Be curious about yourself.
- Submit your work freely and liberally to publications and competitions. There may be a dollar cost to doing this, but there are many, many free-to-submit opportunities out there, as well. Any success will feed your hunger and build the knowledge that you can succeed as a writer. Lack of success is also likely, of course, but the experience of preparing your work for other eyes to see, and the discipline that requires are wonderful learning opportunities.
- Don’t expect to be successful just because you have entered your work somewhere for consideration. Any publication or competition is likely to have hundreds of entries, if not more for any writing event they may be conducting. To be selected requires luck as well as skill. You can only control the skill component of the equation and make your work available to be considered. Fortune sometimes smiles.
- Join writers groups, locally in person, or online somewhere in the world. The process of sharing your work with others and of being entrusted to critique and comment on the work of others is invaluable and will help you develop. You will learn how to write differently, perhaps better. You will also learn how others write and have the chance to learn what you find works and doesn’t work in a piece of writing. All for free!
- Spend a little time working out what it is you really enjoy writing about. Your first research should involve sorting through the library-museum of your own mind.
Massive thanks to Frank for sharing his top tips with us. Frank has published several collections of free verse poetry (listed below) –
- Small Town Kid (2018)
- Devil In The Wind (2019)
- The New Asylum (2019)
- Herja, Devastation (with Cage Dunn) (2019)
- Walk Away Silver Heart (2020)
- A Kiss for the Worthy (2020)
- Rescue and Redemption (2020)
- Pebbles to Poems (2020)
As well as Picture-Poetry books (listed below) –
- A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-Book (2020)
- A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-Book (too) (2020)
- Voices (In The Trash) (2021)
- The Beechworth Bakery Bears (2021)
- Sheep On The Somme (2021)
- Waiting For Frank Bear (2021)
- A Lake Sambell Walk (2021)
Connect with Frank here:
Author Page (Newsletter sign up): https://FrankPrem.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Prem/e/B07L61HNZ4
Frank Prem Poet and Author YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvfW2WowqY1euO-Cj76LDKg
Frank’s Current New Releases:
Waiting For Frank-Bear Blurb:
Waiting For Frank-Bear is a sequel to The Beechworth Bakery Bears book, in which we met a group of very lovable and very cuddly Bears who live and work in the Beechworth Bakery.
They are special friends of Frank Prem and have told him their stories and about their life in the Bakery, and about Olaf who is always making bread dough in the front window and about Tom who owns the Bakery and makes sure that it is special for visitors.
But things are changing in the bakery, and in the world outside. Now, customers are having to form a queue before they can enter, and they wear masks and sign their names at the door.
They cannot sit down inside to have a ciup of coffee and a sweet cake. It is very confusing!
And, where is Frank-Bear. Their good friend Frank-Bear is not visiting as often as he used to and his friends are missing him and wondering if anything has happened and hoping that he is alright.
They think he will be along to visit today, or maybe tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Bakery still needs to be looked after, and Olaf twill keep watching in case he walks past.
Of course, if a customer would like to purchase a very friendly and warm and cuddly Beechworth Bakery Bear, well, that would be very lovely, too!
Would you like to buy a Bear while we are all Waiting For Frank-Bear?
Buy your copy at Amazon UK
A Lake Sambell Walk Blurb:
A Lake Sambell Walk – picture-poetry en plein air is an image-based poetry book and walking excursion around the iconic Lake Sambell at the heart of the beautiful township of Beechworth.
Lake Sambell was originally carved out of the landscape at the height of the mid-19th century gold rush. High pressure hoses washed away vast quantities of soil.
What remained was a barren waste land .
Lake Sambell was created in the1920’s. The new lake utilised a huge tract of the spoiled land and now forms a quite beautiful setting.
Beechworth is the home of free-verse poet/author Frank Prem. His childhood included the lake as a part of his everyday life.
Lake Sambell is witness to a history of gold mining fever that ultimately created a highly prosperous township.
The short-form poetry in A Lake Sambell Walk provides observations and a commentary to accompany the sights and insights that greet a poet on his rounds.
Buy your copy at Amazon UK