Did you catch any events at the Guernsey Literary Festival? We went along to the talk by Cathy Rentzenbrink, a Sunday Times bestselling author who loves to encourage aspiring writers - like us - to Write It All Down. So we did!
Cathy supports people to share their stories and we were very happy to soak up all of her advice. And in the true spirit of sharing, here are some of the notes and tips we took from her talk, to help you with that novel you've been meaning to start... or finish!
1. Everyone’s life would be improved by writing - if that’s what they want to do! - so give yourself permission to do it.
2. Create a habit by making writing part of your daily life.
3. Make time for it, even if it’s just a few minutes journaling a day. It can be cathartic. If the time has flown and it’s going well, do more.
4. Get as far away from the internet as possible - because you will take in a lot of media and communication that dims your thought process. Keep that noise until after you’ve finished.
5. All goals are good - a line a day is a goal, becoming a bestseller is a goal.
6. Take the advice that works for you. Because you are the active ingredient in this process. It’s your writing. You be you.
7. Look after yourself. Writing, like anything you do, needs to be a balanced activity. There is no need to suffer for your art.
8. Try to enjoy it. But know that most writers don’t!
9. Focus on the process, not the outcome.
10. Make a start. You don’t have to let people read it.
11. Timing yourself works whether you’ve got too much time or not enough time. Just set a timer for 5 minutes. It’s amazing what you can get done in that time.
12. Be generous and considerate to yourself. You will enjoy it more when you start small without pressure.
13. You don’t have to have a point or a purpose for writing.
14. You don’t have to be perfect right away. You aren’t the best at anything else you try for the first time.
15. It’s ok to start and stop, leave it for a bit and go back to it. Just because it’s not flowing, that doesn’t mean that it’s not good enough.
16. Remember that most successful writers have been where you are now, wondering if they have a story in them that’s good enough to share.
17. Let other writers guide you. Listen to their talks, read their books and blogs and follow them on social media for motivation and tips.
18. Don’t let anybody put you in a box. Are you a serious novelist or is writing your hobby? Are you a creative writer or a blogger? Does it actually matter?
19. Find something you want to write about and get stuck in. Don’t worry about labels, it’s the writing that’s important, not what you write about
20. Sow the seeds of your ideas and take a nurturing approach to creativity, don’t force it.
21. Remember that you are special. That’s not arrogant, that’s fact. Your views matter and your opinions are unique - write them down.
22. Adopt a Beginner’s Mind. You wouldn’t expect to just sit down at a piano and play like a pro, so don’t put pressure on yourself to produce an instant bestseller.
23. Watch out for overwhelm. Many writers give up before they really get started because they scrutinise every detail. Don’t let that be you, simply write.
24. Keep it private. When you tell people you’re writing they’ll want to know ‘When’s the novel coming out?’ Do you need that pressure in your life?
25. Remember that you don’t have to achieve outside recognition for your writing. You don’t have to be a published author immediately - or ever!
26. If it makes you happy, do it! What motivates you isn’t really important as long as you enjoy writing… who knows you might make someone else happy
Cathy Rentzenbrink is an acclaimed writer who regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, reviews books, runs creative writing courses and speaks and writes on life, death, love, and literature.
Despite being shortlisted for various prizes, Cathy confesses to only ever having won the Snaith and District Ladies’ Darts Championship when she was 17. She admits she is now sadly out of practice (Editors note: it's never to late to pick it up again Cathy - point 15!)
Image: Guernsey Literary Festival