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“Take what you need from these pages; and most of all, enjoy what you do. Joy is such a vital part of creative writing – because if you don’t enjoy what you write, how can you expect anyone else to?” So begins Joanne Harris’s invaluably inspirational - and practical - Ten Things About Writing. Reading this book is rather like having a wise writer as a best friend, on hand to offer pragmatic and energising advice, with many unhelpful myths about writing crumbled, and an emphasis on the fact that writing is to be worked at, not something a wand can be waved at: “The ability to spin words into gold is a skill that comes from hard work, patience and lots of practice. Some people may have an aptitude; others will struggle to gain momentum.”
I particularly loved the author’s unravelling of the myth of inspiration: “The idea that we must wait for the Muse to inspire us was invented by effete young Victorians who wanted an excuse to sit around doing nothing all day. Most of us don’t have that luxury, which means forgetting about the Muse and doing some actual footwork instead.” And this gem: “Don’t write because you want to be a writer. Write because you want to write.”
In bracing style, Harris covers everything from doing proper research, finding your voice and effectual use of description (“If a passage doesn’t serve a purpose, it’s just pointless decoration. Kill it”), to drafting (“all first drafts are terrible... Just get on with it”), re-writing, and what to expect if you’re lucky enough to be published. And she doesn’t stop there, in the way that writing doesn’t either. She also covers dealing with fear, failure, rejection and writer’s block, with every stone turned and looked at from fresh angles, ending with an uplifting reminder that no matter how your writing journey turns out, “just writing is an act of bravery”.
I’ll leave you with this typically droll nugget from the section on writing about women: “Top tip: real women very rarely think about their breasts at all – and certainly never in the way in which some male writers think they do.”
I know this is a book I’ll keep coming back to, along with checking-in on the author’s #TenThings tweets.
One-time teacher and bestselling novelist Joanne Harris has been advising and corresponding with aspirational writers for over six years. This collection of pithy and funny lists of advice provides both hard-won wisdom and insider industry help. All aspects of the writing process and story development are covered – as is the thorny issue of how and where to find readers. From Workspaces and Habits to Plot and Dialogue, these are motivating, problem-solving lists from an experienced and widely respected writer.
Uniquely, Ten Things About Writing also takes the reader beyond the stage of finished manuscripts and editorial changes – into the territories of rights, publicity and marketing. Whether you have the urge to write crime fiction or a fantasy novel, literary short stories or blockbuster thrillers Joanne’s lists will speak to you.
‘Joanne is not only master of her craft but has the rare gift of being able to explain that craft and offer peerless advice in the clearest, no-nonsense, practical and entertaining of ways.’ Matt Haig
‘Joanne Harris’s Ten Tweets have been tiny islands of sensibleness and wisdom. […] I’m delighted they are going to be collected in one place.’ Neil Gaiman
‘Joanne Harris’s Ten Tweets are a constant source of pleasure, equally welcome to writers and readers. […] Frankly, they are marvels in miniature.’ Ian Rankin
‘[Joanne’s] pithy, often very funny advice demystifies writing and the publishing industry for new and aspiring writers.’ Cressida Cowell
Publication date: 09/05/2020
Publisher: September Publishing
|Publication date:||9th May 2020|
|Genres:||Creativity, eBook Favourites, Self Help, Star Books,|
Joanne Harris was our Guest Editor in June 2012 - click here - to see the books that inspired her writing. Joanne Harris is the author of the Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat (made into a major film starring Juliette Binoche), Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Coastliners, Holy Fools, Jigs & Reels, and, with Fran Warde, The French Kitchen: A Cookbook. She lives in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, with her husband and daughter. Fellow novelist ANNE BERRY on JOANNE HARRIS I have thoroughly enjoyed all Joanne Harris’s books but Gentlemen and Players I quite simply adored. I loved the character Roy Straightley, ...More About Joanne Harris