When it comes to something as personal as writing, it pays to remember that the best advice is no advice. No matter how much we may wish it, there is no book you can read that’ll teach you how to write an award-winning novel and no Netflix show to watch that’ll demonstrate how to overcome writer’s block. All you can do is pick up a pen and start writing.
In the spirit of ‘the best advice is no advice’, we’ve selected our favourite ‘words of wisdom’ that you’re probably better off ignoring.
Listen to any famous writer and you’ll eventually end up hearing this one. Everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Stephen King insists that if you don’t write every day then you are negatively impacting your chance of success. It’s easy for them to say this, because writing is their job. For most people starting out, it’s impossible to write every day due to other commitments. Whether it’s a full-time job or childcare, sometimes writing for eight (or even three) hours just isn’t going to happen!
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write every day. After all, you’re only human. After a hard day at the office, sometimes you just want to sit around and watch TV, which is totally fine! What matters most is establishing a routine that works for you and your writing. If you can only commit to writing for one hour every week, then commit to your writing for that one hour every week! Eventually it’ll become a habit, and you’ll find your writing better off for it. Trying to force creativity just won’t work.
Yeah, no. The likelihood is that if you’re writing a book, you’d like someone to read it at some point. Not only will writing like no one’ll read it make the focus of your novel go all over the place, but it also takes accountability off of you as a writer.
‘Who cares that this conclusion makes no sense, it’s not like anyone is ever gonna read this.’ See how that sounds? Instead, try to have some accountability. Feel free to write as if no one will read it, because then you’ll feel more comfortable asking ‘what if?’ and trying some crazy things, as long as you promise to edit like everyone is going to read it. This brings back accountability and keeps you in line, whilst giving you the freedom to at least workshop out-there ideas. After all, you’re less likely to go off-topic if you know you have to edit it later.
This one sounds good on paper, but in practice it falls flat. Obviously, a benefit of writing like you speak would be that your writing voice, and especially your dialogue, will sound natural. But have you ever listened to people speak? Natural speech is filled with noises like ‘hmm’ and ‘um,’ and when you couple that with the constant repetition and little quirks in everyone’s speech patterns, it’ll be an absolute nightmare to read, let alone write.
If you want your dialogue to sound natural, then read it out loud as you write. If it sounds off actually coming out of your mouth, then it won’t read convincingly either. Injecting your personality into your writing adds colour and flavour to your book, but actually trying to replicate speech will drive you – and your readers – insane.
Christmas is always a time of excess and over-indulgence – either in terms of turkey helpings or splurging on presents! As the season of excess, Christmas can be a difficult time to prioritise recycling and buying less. That being said, recycling at Christmas doesn’t have to be boring or drab! To help, we’ve developed some suggestions that help you combine your love of books with some handy recycling this Christmas.
Make Mini Gift Pouches
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimate that each year we use enough wrapping paper to wrap the island of Guernsey! If that statistic isn’t mind-boggling enough, a good majority of it won’t even get recycled due to laminates or glitter. Making your own mini gift pouches from old books is a fun and cute way to not only infuse your gift wrapping with some originality and vivacity this Christmas, but also a little step towards saving the planet! Using a touch of glue, you can connect old pages together to create a small pouch, and then use buttons, string or wooden pegs to fasten your pouches shut – all supplies you can source from independent craft stores or thrift shops to support your local high street as well. It’s a win-win!
Create Kusudama Balls for Baubles
Kusudama balls are a Japanese paper model where you sew or glue together multiple pyramids to form a spherical shape. Once traditionally used for potpourri and incense, they are now mostly decorative – and are the perfect way to combine crafting handmade ornaments and recycling old books you have lying around the house. Or alternatively you could even make a day of it as a family or group of friends and go on a trip around your local thrift stores to find old books– and then have a little crafting session (ideally accompanied by hot chocolates and classic Christmas tunes!). Not only will you create baubles you can use for years to come, but it’s a great way to get together and spend some quality time at Christmas.
Craft a Guardian Angel
This is a lovely opportunity to create a Christmas tree centrepiece that is a little bit of you, and something you can admire every year. You can use a mini pom-pom for the head of your little bibliophile angel and can decorate the wings with a splash of red or gold glitter for a cute Christmas vibe if you fancy. This is the perfect mini craft project to take on with your loved ones this festive season. You could even make a little competition of it, maybe with a box of Quality Street and a guaranteed place at the top of the tree as the number one prize! Bonus points if the old book is Christmas-themed!
Create Christmas Cards
One tree, on average, is only enough for 176 people to send cards to loved ones at Christmas – so if as many as one billion cards end up in the bin, that’s the equivalent of 33 million trees discarded! We also all know what predictable Christmas cards we tend to end up both giving and receiving each year. Using just pages from old books, some card and some glue, you can instead craft a sweet, handmade card personalised to its recipient. What better way to combine doing our bit for the planet and giving your friends and family a really thoughtful, bespoke Christmas treat this year? Another great way to save the trees this Christmas is to consider sending an e-Card. There’s no postage and packaging fees, they can be emailed on the day, and are completely eco-friendly!
Make a Christmas Wreath
This is a slightly bigger project, but a great Christmas challenge to take on! Wrapping some old pages into cones, you can glue them in a ring to create a Christmas wreath – and then you can really get creative with it. You could use glitter, old buttons, or other festive decals to spruce it up, and then hang it with some ribbon to show off both your bibliophilia and your artistic prowess. Although watch out hanging it on your front door in wet and windy Wales – we might suggest it’s best enjoyed inside!
Getting your book published can always be a difficult and confusing process – but not with help from the right people. In this blog post we’re going to lay out your timeline for writing and publishing a Christmas novel, as well as point you in the right direction to some friendly faces who will be able to give you a helping hand!
If you have any questions about publishing, here at Rowanvale we have a range of talented and helpful Publishing Advisors ready to see to your every need, so feel free to get in touch with any queries! And if you’re now ready to start thinking about post-publication marketing, please see our handy How to Market Your Novels at Christmas blog post, where we’ve laid out the next steps for you.
Whilst it might be ever tempting to just kick back and relax in December, the Christmas period is a crucial time in sales and marketing for your novel – an opportunity you do not want to miss! The Independent reported a few years ago that book sales during the Christmas period were the highest they had been in over ten years, with a mind-boggling 83.3 million books being sold. To make sure you’re featuring in that incredible figure, we’ve compiled a practical guide of how best to market your novels during the Christmas period.
Alternatively, here at Rowanvale we offer a fantastic Marketing and Aftercare Service which will help you navigate this difficult period with ease! Get in contact with one of our talented Marketing Advisors for any queries you may have.