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 Gail Aldwin
Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin’s debut coming-of-age novel The String Games was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the Dorchester Literary Festival Writing Prize 2020. Following a stint as a university lecturer, Gail’s children’s picture book Pandemonium was published. Her second contemporary novel This Much Huxley Knows uses a young narrator to shine a light upon the follies of adults. Gail has appeared at national and international literary festivals including the Bridport Literary Festival, Stockholm Writers Festival and the Mani Lit Fest in Greece. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset.
Gail’s Top 10 Writing Tips
- Since lockdown, I’ve joined Writers’ Hour each weekday morning at eight o’clock. It’s a Zoom call with loads of other writers who share a concentrated fifty minutes of writing. We are welcomed by hosts at the London Writers’ Salon and offered a few inspiring words before we begin. At the end, there’s a chance to debrief. It works well for me, launching me into the writing day. It’s certainly helped me to crack on with The Girl and the Tutor, a crime novel currently on submission.
- Be a good literary citizen by using social media to share open submission windows, competitions inviting entries and to congratulate others on steps in their writing journey. It is by celebrating what’s good about the writing world that helps to prevent burn out.
- Write short fiction or poetry alongside novel writing. This exercises different creative muscles and helps build the stamina to complete a long project.
- Utilise Goodreads. Follow and friend writers and book reviewers. Keep your own profile up to date and review the books of others. Comment on reviews to encourage engagement.
- Keep polishing your novel until you can virtually recite every word. Only then is your work ready to submit to agents and publishers.
- If you receive an offer from a small press, have the Society of Authors vet the contract. Pick out the things that are important to you and negotiate changes. (I had the clause where I was obliged to offer first refusal of subsequent novels removed). Be aware of any dangers that are flagged up.
- Write collaboratively. I teamed up with two other Dorset writers to form 3-She. We write short plays and comedy sketches which have been performed in theatres and arts centres across the county. I honestly don’t think I would’ve been able to include humour in my latest novel This Much Huxley Knows (which uses a young narrator to shine a light on the follies of adults)if it hadn’t been for skills I learnt from my co-writers.
- Apply for writing retreats and residencies. There’s nothing better than a change of scene and a little peace and quiet to get those creative juices flowing. (Many offer bursaries if self-funding is an issue.)
- Attend open mics and spoken word events to build links with local writers. Take the opportunity to read your work even if this is out of your comfort zone. Audiences are very supportive and the more you do this, the more your confidence will grow.
- Share your work-in-progress at writing groups in person or online. I’m a member of Pens Around the World which is an online group specifically for writers working in English who live (or have lived) overseas. We’re currently recruiting new members so if your experience fits, do get in touch.
Connect with Gail here:
Book Blurb for This Much Huxley Knows: A Story of Innocence, Misunderstandings, and Acceptance
I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
BUY your copy here: This Much Huxley Knows purchase link: mybook.to/ThisMuchHuxleyKnows