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.
To help other writers, I started a feature whereby established authors shared their words of wisdom and top ten writing tips.
It was a huge success and I was delighted to bring the feature back for a second season! You’ll find all the Top 10 Writing Tip articles here.
Meet Amanda James
Amanda James has written since she was a child, and as an eight-year-old, she asked her parents for a typewriter for Christmas. She never imagined her words would ever be published however. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when she had her first short story published for a Born Free anthology. She left teaching in 2013 to pursue her dream full-time.
Originally from Sheffield, Amanda now lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the wild and beautiful coastline near her home. She has many suspense novels set there, but her last few books have been uplifting in nature with a twist of magic. She loves writing feel-good reads and has decided the world needs more joy in it right now, and her plan is to write many more novels in that genre. Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.
Amanda’s Top 10 Writing Tips:
- Know why you want to write. Once you have the answer, it will shape your journey.
- Believe in your writing. If you don’t, nobody else will.
- Try to write something every day. Even if it’s a hundred words, it’s progress. If you set your wordcount target too high and you don’t achieve it, you will soon get despondent. I try for 1000 words a day.
- If you don’t manage to write every day, don’t worry. I tend to binge write. For me that means three weeks or so of writing every day and then maybe a week off. It depends on deadlines and the time of year. I’m not so good at concentrating when it’s sunny outside and the sea is calling!
- Don’t worry too much about what other writers are doing. Some might have lots of colourful post it notes one their walls with intricate plans on them. Others might not plan at all. There’s no right or wrong way. Do what feels right for you.
- Make friends with other authors. Writing can be a lonely business. It’s good to chat online or in real life about the ups and downs and share ideas about how to get a publisher, an agent, or anything writing related! Only another writer can really understand what it’s like.
- Once your book is rejected, and it will be, unless you are very lucky, ask others for their honest opinion. Read it with fresh eyes yourself and be brutally honest. Is it good enough? How can you improve it? What is missing? Maybe you could do an online writing course to improve your craft. Or maybe you just need more experience.
- Whatever you do, don’t give up. Over the years my books have been rejected by agents and publishers more times than I can count. And it hurts. A lot. But you have to have the determination to get up from all the kicks in the gut and try again. If you don’t, you will never be published.
- Try not to take too much notice of bad reviews. Sometimes they might have a point, but often they are just mean. Try to remember the good ones and take heart from all the people who do love your work.
- The first tip on the list here was – know why you want to write. If it’s to make loads of money, then unless you’re really lucky, it isn’t going to happen. I write because I have to. It’s in my blood, and there’s nothing better than hearing how your words have made someone happy. Hearing people talk about my characters and made-up worlds as if they are real, always brings a big smile to my face. We need more things to make us smile in the world, and I’m so glad that my books can do that for people.
Thanks to Amanda for sharing her top tips with us. You can connect with her here:
Book Blurb for Garden by the Sea
A heartwarming novel of new beginnings, love and finding your community when you need them the most…
A precious heirloom passed down from mother to daughter…
Lowena Rowe’s beloved mum always claimed her family seed box was special. Said to contain soil from Tintagel, the mysterious seat of the legendary King Arthur, whomever made a wish upon the box would have ‘a beautiful garden, bountiful crops and love of their fellow man’. Lowena isn’t inclined to believe the myth but can’t part with the box, knowing how much it meant to her mum.
Starting over with a new home and a new job in the Cornish village of St Merryn, Lowena can’t help feeling lost and alone… but she isn’t the only one. Now, as a community of misfits finds solace and friendship in the shade of her growing garden, she realises there might have been truth to the mythical box after all, and she may just be growing the life and love she’s always wanted…
Book Blurb for A Secret Gift:
Three years ago, Joy Pentire lost her firefighter husband and she still hasn’t returned to the woman she once was. But then she meets Hope, one of the residents at the nursing home where she’s a carer.
Hope has a secret gift that she wants to pass on.
And Joy’s life is forever changed.
Surrounded by the community in her Cornish hometown, Joy’s unexpected inheritance soon leads to new opportunities, new friends, new love, and the part of herself she’d thought forever lost … her joy.
Take a look at Amanda’s books:
Garden by the Sea (One More Chapter – January 2022)
A Secret Gift (One More Chapter – Harper Collins, October 2021)
The Cornish Connection, and Nancy Cornish PI, (2020)
Dark Deception (Bloodhound Books November 2019)
The Feud (Bloodhound Books April 2019)
The Cornish Retribution (Bloodhound Books October 2018)
The Calico Cat (Bombshell/Bloodhound Books June 2018)
Another Mother (Bloodhound Books April 2018)
Behind the Lie (HQ Digital Harper Collins April 2017)