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 Sue Johnson
Sue Johnson is a poet, short story writer and novelist. She also creates books aimed at helping other writers. Sue is very fortunate to have lexical-gustatory synaesthesia (she tastes words) and is a member of the UK Synaesthesia Association. She is a Writing Magazine Creative Writing Tutor.
Sue’s other interests include reading, walking in the countryside, yoga, cooking and studying Italian. She also has a passion for velvet, red wine and dark chocolate.
Sue’s Top 10 Writing Tips:
1. Write every day whether you feel like it or not. It is said to take twenty one days to establish a habit. Ten minutes is good to begin with. If you’re stuck for inspiration, begin with ‘I remember…’ and see what happens.
2. Finish what you start. Don’t worry if the first draft of something is a complete mess. Remember that you can’t edit a blank page!
3. Use all the senses when you write. Colours, sounds, smells and textures help to make scenes come to life for the reader.
4. Invest time in your characters! Who are they? What do they most want? Who or what is preventing them from achieving this? Give the reader a reason to care about the outcome of the story.
5. I begin a novel by creating a scrapbook or storyboard of images of the places, people and scenes that I’m planning to write. I don’t plan too rigidly. I usually have an idea of the beginning and the end – but in between I let my characters show me the way forward.
6. Competitions are a good thing to try! They give you deadlines to work to. I’ve had some of my best opportunities as a result of competitions.
7. If you like an idea, stick with it. Don’t allow anyone to discourage you. Keep going until you achieve your goals. Don’t show your work to anyone until you feel ready to do so.
8. If you receive a rejection don’t feel too demoralised. Aim to send it somewhere else within 48 hours.
9. Create a list of what you would like to achieve each month. Reward yourself for each one you tick off. My lists include things like investigating new markets for my work, submitting stories and articles as well as listening to a talk by a well-known writer. The Arvon Foundation – www.arvon.org do some interesting on-line talks as well as offering retreats and courses for writers.
10. Read as much as you can. Also, in her book ‘The Artist’s Way’ Julia Cameron talks about ‘refilling the creative well.’ This depends on what helps and inspires you – and could be anything from lying on the grass and looking at the clouds to visiting an art gallery or lunchtime concert.
Thanks to Sue for sharing her top tips with us. You can connect with her here:
Take a look at Sue’s books:
Writing Success: Poetry, Flash Fiction, and Short Story Exercises
Writing Success: poetry, flash fiction & short story exercises is a book aimed at helping and encouraging writers of all levels of ability. Writers are shown how to use poems as a springboard to flash fiction and longer stories. The book is crammed with exercises and would be of tremendous value to creative writing tutors.
Apple Orchard, Lemon Grove
When Gemma Lawrence inherits a share of her Great Aunt’s restaurant she is dismayed to find she has to share it with Stefano Andrea, a moody Italian chef. Gemma and Stefano have broken relationships behind them and dislike each other on sight as much as Stefano hates the cold English weather. Under the terms of the will, they have to work together for six months to turn the dilapidated building into a successful restaurant. If either of them leaves or a profit is not made, then they will lose their inheritance. The challenge is on – and neither of them are prepared to give up. As they work together, they begin to unravel the story behind the inheritance and find out what links the English Apple Orchard to the Italian Lemon Grove. Apple Orchard, Lemon Grove is a fast-paced novel with intriguing characters, atmospheric locations and mouth-watering food.
Threads: Spinning the Web of Time (Poetry)
Threads: spinning the web of time is a poetry collection inspired by a visit to Quilters Corner, Evesham on a wet Saturday in March 2018.
Check out all of Sue’s books on her website.