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Margaret Atwood - Writing Advice
Margaret Atwood

MY LATEST WRITING/ACTING VENTURE IS AT: http://www.youtube.com/user/8LukeJames?feature=mhee

Because I'm also currently working on a new novel, I'm looking at successful writers advise. These words of wisdom are from Margaret Atwood.

1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3 Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

4 If you're using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.

5 Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6 Hold the reader's attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7 You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

8 You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

9 Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10 Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

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Advice from Ms. Atwood

Twenty-five years ago, Ms. Atwood came to my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama to read from her work and talk about writing. When several of us whined that it was so hard to come home for our "work" jobs and sit down to write, she paused and then said, "Get over it." I've never forgotten that snappy bit of truth.

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Advice from Ms. Atwood

Hello Beth - thank you so much for sharing that wonderful piece of advice - next time I find myself getting whiney ... I'm going to get over it  - and get on with it! Best wishes to you and your writing.

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Advice from Ms. Atwood

Thanks, Luke. Best wishes to you, too, and may we all get over it.