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Collated Answers from WW interviews

What advice would you give to a new writer starting out?
Adrian MeadI read everything about the craft of writing, love techniques like mindmapping and genre crunching but avoid too much analysis of the issues and themes that I tend to return to. I suppose it's that pigeon holing thing, it's bad enough when others do it to you, so why do it yourself?

I still class myself as a new writer and director and I have always made it a priority to get to meet the most successful people and pick their brains. It really is a case of only six degrees of separation and if you are willing to put in the graft you can meet almost anyone you can think of. My heroes and inspiration? A very long list would have to include Tony Marchant, Alan Bleasedale, Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison, John Irving, Ghandi, Richard Dawkins, Sun Tzu...

Recently I was asked by a group to come and talk about how I got a break etc I was stunned when after only fifteen minutes they stated that it was a total revelation to be told that if they believed in themselves and were willing to work hard enough they could achieve their dream. Prior to this they had been told by a steady stream of "Professionals"
1// "You better have a bar job or some other training because you'll NEVER support yourself through writing/directing/producing."
2// "I don't know why they keep encouraging people with these courses, there's very little hope of getting work unless you are already well connected"
3// This one from a media lawyer really stunned me, - "Actually, I don't know why I'm telling you any of this, it's highly unlikely that any of you will ever get to make a film anyway."
This has happened with a couple of groups recently and of course this stuff becomes a self fulfilling prophecy if people hear it often enough. Each time I've abandoned the talk I had planned to give and spent the next hour trying to debunk all the rubbish they've had dumped on them.
The most imporatnat piece of advice I could give to anyone starting out is that they REALLY ask themselves "Why do I want to be a Writer/Producer/Director/DOP etc?"

VALIDATION? This is the worst reason in the world! You are setting yourself up for a constant kicking. Be the measure of your own worth, don't rely on others to validate your worth.

SECURITY? You want routine, job security, a pension provider? This is predominantly a business for freelancers who need to be highly self motivated and ALWAYS chasing and planning the next job.

MONEY/GLAMOUR? Obviously when people want your services it can be very lucrative but you need to be able to manage your finances and plan a strategy to keep yourself as you build a career. Alas, the "glamour" is mostly for the very successful actors.

LOVE OF THE PROCESS? Good! But you need to remember that in almost all roles this is a collaborative process and you will need to be able to work with people and Cooperate.

THE NEED TO COMMUNICATE? Fantastic? If you can always be excited about being part of the storytelling process then everything that happens after that is a bonus.
Before the deeply unhappy pour their anger out on me and start listing what the industry SHOULD be, please understand that I know EXACTLY how tough it is, but so is ANY business when you are basically a sole trader.
Okay, sorry! I have had a huge rant, it's just that it has been incredibly sad to hear so many people relate how they were being crushed before they'd even started out. Anything is possible if you want it enough.There are plenty of VERY REALISTIC, experienced and positive folk out there and I continue to find them to be incredibly helpful and generous. I hope I can be as helpful to others as people have been to me.
  
Andrew LownieI Ė and indeed most editors - like proposals in the format suggested on my website of chapter summaries, a sample chapter and information about what makes the book different and special. With so many books being published, it needs to say something new and with authority. Itís self-evident, but often forgotten, that it also needs to be readable. My advice to writers is to really understand their market and to read as widely as possible in their genre.
  
Anji PratapAnything that you submit should be left for a month and re-read as if written by someone else. Donít trust your family and friends to be objective. They want to be nice and encouraging but thatís not what you need.

Itís very hard to do but try not to be too disappointed with rejections. It doesnít mean that your work isnít any good but just that it isnít for the person you sent it to.

  
Writersroom BBCBe persistent Ė but donít stalk or harass. Be thick skinned Ė but be sensitive if different people are separately identifying the same problem your work. Be confident about your ideas while you write Ė but be diffident and objective about them while you are rewriting. Be yourself and write from the heart Ė but remember the audience is other people. Donít try to second guess what people want and be expedient Ė just passionately tell stories you are passionate about telling.
  
Bill SpenceWrite, write, write and go on writing. If you want to be a writer you have got to write. If your writing seems bad one day go on because it will keep the story flowing and what you have written can always be re-written. Have the courage to go on. Be able to take criticism as long as it is constructive criticism and not destructive criticism. Writing is hard work and has its own special demands but enjoy it otherwise it becomes a burden. Keep a receptive mind. Read a lot, see how other writers handle words and express themselves but donít copy. Develop your own style. As a writer you need a little bit of luck but you have to recognise it and grasp it when you do, then turn it to your advantage.
  
BlackberryRe-write; re-write; re-write and listen to your publishing editor.
  
Bruce JamesMake sure your work is packaged neatly. Scripts are best bound and well typed and easy to read. The more professional it looks the better. Accompanying introductions and synopsis should be easy to find and understand. Music Demo CDís for Musicals are a good idea but use singers who can sing! I have lost count of the number of Music CDís I have received where the work sounds awful because the singers canít sing! First impressions mean a lot and will move you off the ďCould readĒ pile to the ďMust readĒ pile. Donít lose faith and expect rejections. Request feedback but donít be disappointed if you receive none. Keep trying! Enclose S.A.E. if you want your work back. Always follow up to see if the work has been read but donít become a nuisance.
  
Candi MillerIf you can possibly put that ms away for few years, do. If you still like it when you pull it out, youíve got something. And youíll find youíre better able to craft your work, as youíll have grown as a writer in the interim.
  
Candy Denman If you are interested in writing a script, go to the BBC writerís room and look at the format, then try and write one- either an original idea, or an episode of a programme you enjoy. Donít go on a course until youíve tried writing at least one script- youíll learn much more that way.
  
Caroline RanceDon't despair if your writing seems rubbish when you read it back. A lot of it will be, but that's OK. It won't be wasted Ė everything you write teaches you something.
  
Cassandra ClareDon't feel like what you write has to be perfect the first time around.
A lot of people start writing, then get discouraged when they think what they've produced isn't perfect, and quit. Understand that writing is a process of revising and don't be afraid to just get the words down on
paper.
  
Catherine RichardsDonít be precious about your writing. I meet a lot of writers in writing forums who ask for crit and then get upset because people try and tell them that something needs fixing. Be open to suggestions and advice and be realistic about the fact that getting published will end up as a team effort somewhere along the way.
Also donít drag it on too long. Write it while itís still fresh in your mind. You can always go back and edit and correct later.
  
Cathy GlassBe resolute, donít give up, and make sure you present the manuscript in accordance with the agentís or publisherís guidelines. It is so important.
  
ChromaWrite what you want to write. Donít give a fuck about what will sell or what you think the market wants. If you write what you want and what you feel passionate about, the market will make room for you. And youíll feel proud of your work. And if youíre not sure what you want to write about, then write write write, like Chekhov says, ďuntil your fingers fall offĒ and youíll discover your voice and the subject matter that means the most to you. And read, to paraphrase Chekhov, until your eyes pop out. Read what you love and read the writers you admire; donít waste time on what you think you ought to be reading (because thatís who everyoneís talking about, or thatís whoís selling thousands of copies).
  
Claire MossThe main thing is to be aware of what a learning process it is. Don't assume that because you read a lot and/ or can write well, that you automatically know how to write a novel. Take every piece of advice going, and never think it doesn't apply to you. Try and analyse work you admire (TV & films as well as novels) to work out why particular plot lines or characters are effective. Join a group (real-world or online) and get as much constructive criticism as you can. I'm sure there are novice writers out there who sat down one day and got up three months later with a publishable book typed out in front of them, but I think for most people it is a case of writing one version after another until they finally have one that reads like a 'proper' book.

  
Courttia NewlandWrite, write, write. Build your creative side like a muscle and you canít help but reap the rewards.
  
Danny RhodesToo many to mention!

Try to be professional in every respect. Read submission guidelines carefully. Approach publishers in a professional manner. Invest time in your submissions letters, synopses and pitches. Research, research, research. Check out the blogosphere. Read what publishers are saying about the industry. Is there an area you can tap into? Build a website.

Donít take rejection personally. If you get comments in a rejection, take them on board and learn from them. Theyíre like gold dust.

Try not to become cynical. It is easy to think that the publishing world is impenetrable. It isnít, itís just very, very hard to get a break but if you keep trying, write the right thing at the right time and send it to the right person, the break will come eventually! Somebody like Scott Pack (former head buyer Waterstones, now Commercial Director of The Friday Project) would probably have been the type of person Iíd have disliked before I was published, simply because he represented the industry that I wanted desperately to break in to. But heís been one of the real champions of Asboville. Somebody somewhere has to have the job of saying Ďyesí or Ďnoí so its natural to not like a person who says Ďnoí and like a person who says Ďyesí but not necessarily fair on them. Theyíre just doing their job. Writers must never forget that the publishing industry is there to make money and this can cause upset amongst the unpublished. The irony is that most writers want to make money from their writingÖ

Try to build up a writing CV. Explore the world of small press publications and independent publishers. You can earn kudos and gain confidence. Submit to these for a while instead of the bigger places. Form workable relationships with editors. Be nice. You never know what is going to happen in the future. There are some useful links to small presses and such on my website (www.dannyrhodes.net)

You have to be dedicated. You have to want it more than anything. It probably has to be an obsession!
  
David SmithA lot of the advice I would give is contained in some of the things Iíve already said. But itís worth trying to make oneself aware of the kind of books that are being published, and, just as crucially, the kind that arenít. Publishing has trends like everything else but itís fairly conservative. You wonít see seismic shifts in taste or style. But you will see the ebbing of certain genres and the development of others. An obvious example is chick-lit. The successful writers in this area probably have settled careers ahead of them for many years. But itís a long time since a new author broke into this area Ė itís very unlikely to happen. Yes, you have to write what is close to your heart, but just keep an eye on the market as you write, to try and judge whether you are generally in step or wildly out of it. And be honest and ruthless with yourself. If you doubt something about your work then do what you can to fix it Ė donít try to get away with it, because an agent or a publisher will spot it. Also, itís worth asking yourself the hard-nosed business question: why would 20,000 people pay £10 or so to buy and read this book in preference to another. The average per capita spend on books in the UK is something like £40 per year. Thatís a depressing average and it shows you what youíre up against. But if youíre genuinely convinced that your novel is that good then be ready to persevere like youíve never persevered before. You might be lucky and get an agent followed by a publishing deal within weeks or even days. Or it might take you forty years. Or you might never make it. But if you give up youíll certainly never make it.
  
Diane SamuelsWrite on a regular basis, at least five days a week even if itís just for half an hour or less.. Go to some interesting classes and workshops to hear the work of others and share your own. Read regularly. The key is to keep writing, writing, writing and give yourself permission to write rubbish. In fact, itís essential to write rubbish as part of your writing life.
  
Domenica De RosaGet an agent Ė when I worked at HarperCollins we didnít accept any unsolicited novels if they didnít come from an agent.
When you write to agents, write to several at the same time and let the agents know you are doing it. The one thing they hate is the thought of a new talent going to the competition.
  
Earlyworks PressWe all already know the good advice: Write about what you know and care for, read more, write more, observe yourself and others honestly. Write every day. Finish what you start. Donít waste your time or anyone elseís with a piece you donít feel is your best. Keep submitting Ė and submit intelligently. Donít let rejections get you down Ė but learn from them. Seek out and pay attention to criticism but donít be ruled by it. I could go on for hours like that but as I say, we all know it already. Most writers (myself included) can remember quite a few years of labouring in vain before deciding to follow those rules. For the impatient, hereís a short version: Make sure you know what you are writing and why.

  
Elastic PressTo be persistent. To confidently submit your work to the very best publishers and magazines. To read widely. And to write as often as possible.
  
Elizabeth BuchanDo it. There is no substitute. Know Thyself. Try and write at the best of time for you. Set yourself a reasonable target. If necessary one page at a time. It turns into two pages, then four.
  
Emilia di Girolamo To work as hard as you possibly can and spend as much time writing as you are able. Like anything you need to practise in order to get better and the more work you have, the more work you are likely to sell. If you truly believe that writing is the career for you then persevere. I have had over 100 rejections but you just can't take them personally. It is a hugely competitive business and you need to be the best you can be. Just as an athlete trains for many hours every day to win a race, you need to train too and keep those writing muscles in tip top shape!
  
Five Leaves Know who you are writing for. Years ago I organised a workshop for aspiring children's writers. A rather elderly woman came - complete with her shopping trolley. When we asked what people wanted out of the day she remarked that she wrote stories for her grandchild and wanted to write better stories for her grandchild. Her audience was one, but she knew it. Too many writers imagine that because they have written the odd short story or been on a course the publishing world is waiting, just for them. No artist would do a WEA class and then expect to be hung in the Tate. People should be realistic about their abilities. I'd also encourage new writers - if they are serious about what they are doing - to go on an Arvon course or two (find them on the net). These are tremendous residential courses for new and experienced writers. Oh yes, at the end of that children's course the old woman said that she felt she could now write better stories for her grandchild. And then she asked why Nottinghamshire County Council put on so few feminist writers...
  
Fuselit MagazineRead a wide range of stuff, and try reading outside your favourite genres/styles/periods. Never be afraid of any subject matter, but if you are planning on writing a poem, be sure the same thing could not be said in a simple sentence. Never let all of your characters agree with your point of view. Listen to constructive crit, but donít feel bound by it. Remember that people have taken time out to give you in-depth suggestions for how to improve your writing. This means they must like an aspect of it to begin with. Crit is not a personal attack. Personal attacks are not crit. PLEASE know how and when apostrophes should be used. Above all, go for it. There are some great writing websites out there where you can discuss your writing and read other peoplesí stuff, and where you can get good exposure for your back catalogue.

  
Gary DavisonWhen I started I read every how-to book, done a few courses on the net etc, but the only thing that ever really worked for me was reading and writing, putting the writing down for a considerable time, say a year, going back to it and seeing if it still read ok. Reading is the training. Just read, read, read and write every day.
  
Gillian Cross∑ Have fun
∑ Write the things you really want to write, in the way you want to write them. Remember that though you can learn techniques all writers operate differently.
∑ Never be satisfied with second best
  
Gillian McClureMy tip for new childrenís writers: even without any major Ďbreakthrough momentsí in your career, there will always be the long, slow, snowballing of followers if you can hang on in for at least thirty years. For then, the five-year-olds who loved your first book (long out-of-print) will be twenty-five-year-olds, and a new generation of teachers, librarians, publishers and parents. Two years later the five-year-olds who loved your second book will have joined them, and so on, with the snowball gradually growing as your readers grow up and share their love of your books with another generation of children. This will go on for as many years as you can keep alive and producing new books. Itís a sure way, but perhaps a good breakthrough is an easier way!
  
Gordon and WilliamsRG: Just keep at it and when you think youíve really got something, keep editing and testing it, as youíre probably only a fraction of the way there.

BW: Get obsessed/stay obsessed.
  
CornerstonesHave fun with your writing, be professional, and believe wholeheartedly in what youíve written. Be confident enough to question what you have, revise if necessary, and then believe in it again.
  
Jae Watsonē Learn your craft by practicing and practicing and allow your work to be constructively criticised.
ē Raise the stakes in your writing Ė both public and personal stakes i.e. ask, how can this matter more?
ē Get in touch with what you really need to say and donít be afraid to say it i.e. donít be restricted by the ever-present parental voice in your head. (Read Natalie Goldberg Wild Mind.)
ē If you have a sense that writing is somehow what you are meant to be doing with your life then make space to do it. No excuses. Or you are not living the life you are meant to be living and thatís a waste.
ē Read a lot.
ē Enjoy the process!


  
Jane ElmorBoring as it is, I think the thing is to persevere. Always go back to it even if you give up for a while. Get stuck in and get the words down Ė writing 'in your head' doesn't count, and although you obviously have to do some planning and research, don't spend years on it to put off starting the actual job in itself. Don't be disheartened by your first draft being 'rubbish' Ė it's called a first draft for a reason. Although some things you write may be immediately good, most will need honing. Feedback is really useful along the way Ė be brave and get your work read, and listen to criticism. Even when I've railed against some suggestions, I've had to meekly admit they were right when I've finally gone back and thought about it and tried harder, and actually made it better. In fact, don't be afraid of writing courses and workshops Ė they are your friend not your enemy! Just having to write for the next session gets you used to making your writing a priority, so it doesn't end up at the bottom of your Things To Do List. And you may just meet some soulmates.
  
Jane RogersThis is already well known, but it is the most useful tip I know: put work away before you show it to anyone. Leave it for a month, more if you can. You will be much more objective and critical when you reread, and able to do your own hatchet job before wasting someone else's time with it.
  
Jenny Eclair Don't edit as you go along, write crap, write anything, but don't judgeyourself before you have anything to judge.
  
John MurrayFirst of all read a lot as well as write a lot. Read very good writers and aim to be as good as them, even if you don't manage it. If you aim very high you might achieve something good, whereas if you aim for the middle you're likely to end up bad! Study their techniques as you read these writers. How do they do their dialogue? How do they finish a paragraph? Are they lavish with adjectives or not? Does the 'he said' go at the front or the end of a line of dialogue?

Also don't listen to the new orthodoxies, the creative writing police. Some writing tutors will tell you never to use more than one adjective per noun. This frankly is over-prescriptive tosh. Some writers write at their best when they're ornate and decorative. There are no hard and fast rules with writing other than write very well in a way that suits you.

Here's some real nitty gritty though.If you use a computer always print off the day's work, don't just leave it on screen. Then always do your editing on the hard copy with a pen, never edit on screen. A thing can look a work of genius on screen but if you print it off you can see how feeble it is as hard copy. Hard copy is the closest thing there is to a physical book in your hands. Once you've done your ink editing then put the changes in on screen. Then print off again to see how it looks as revised hard copy. I know it all sounds laborious and it uses a lot of paper, but I promise you you'll end up with a better book. After all writing very well is a hard slow and laborious business, it always has been and it always will be.

I hear horror stories about people who compose entire novels on screen and only print off at the end. Aside from the fact that the hard drive might corrupt and they lose the novel, the chances of writing a good book all on screen are negligible in my view.

  
Jonathan MethIt would depend on the writer! But the key things for me are: really get to know and understand the medium you wish to write for, be passionate about it. If you want to write for theatre, go to the theatre, be a part of it, think really hard about what it means and explore it. Meet other writers and find yourself a network of people who can support you and read your work (this may be at a local theatre or writers group, or just amongst your friends). Enjoy the learning process, go to workshops and seminars. Donít be disheartened if your feedback is negative, try to address it (but also get a second opinion if you think it's not right). Remember that most playwrights submit a number of drafts before their work is finished (youíre not supposed to get it right first time!)Feel empowered and educated. Donít just send out work willy-nilly, know the work of the companies youíre approaching, educate yourself and be your own agent. Also, think about the others skills you might have, or might want to have, that can help you support your career. Subscribe to writernetÖ well I had to say that really!!!
  
Josa YoungDonít give up, and write from the heart. And blog and blog and blog. An Arvon course helped me. And if what you are writing already has a niche audience, ie you are an expert in a rare breed of dog, try Lulu.com for self-publishing to get yourself off the ground.
  
Kathryn Haig Donít do as I do! Thatís not meant to be facetious. Every new writer thinks he/she has to reinvent the wheel. So . . . write every day (it doesnít matter what or how much, just do it); give yourself time and space (it doesnít matter if the carpet needs vacuuming or the car needs cleaning or the dog has just thrown up); youíre going to get hurt, so develop a shell, but only a thin one (underneath youíre still the nice person you always were); learn from your mistakes.
  
Komedy KollectiveHave fun, party, and reject conformity forevermore. You know you wanna!!! For the future of theatreÖ.. you must.
  
Laura WatsonAbove all keep the faith! Itís an incredibly tough industry and you really have to just keep plugging away and reject the temptation to get jaded. Just never forget why you wanted to write in the first place and hold onto that. And keep writing whatever happens.
  
Laura WilkinsonBlimey, how long have you got! There is so much good advice out there but not all of it will work for you. You need to try lots of different things. Having said that, I passionately believe that you must read, and read, and read, other writers. You must keep turning up at your own blank page with unfailing regularity; you must practise the craft.

I find publications like Mslexia and Writing Magazine helpful and there is a mass of networking websites. The right writing group can be enormously helpful too. A friend of mine, Jane Wenham-Jones, has recently written a book Wannabe a Writer? and this is jam-packed with sound advice from Jane and a number of experts. My personal favourite is Lynne Hacklesí gem ĎNever iron when you can writeí and as a true slut one that I adhere to.


  
Lawrence Bowen I should probably start doing this but always seem to have too much to read here!
  
Lee HenshawI donít believe thereís anything else you can do but read a lot, write a lot and hope for the best
  
Lola JayeNever, never, never, never give up! You have to be Ďin ití to win it. The minute you give up there is really no chance, is there?

One person may like your work, another may hate it. Be confident that you have the talent and keep going. Youíll need this confidence when the tenth rejection slip is pushed through the letterbox.

  
LollypopWrite what you are passionate about and make sure you have done your homework. Get as many people to read your work as possible and take note of what they think Ė you donít have to agree with them but they may be able to give you some valuable feedback. Check what you have written Ė it seems basic but you would be amazed how many people donít.

Also when you find a publisher for your work, please make sure you read any and all contracts thoroughly. Make sure that you donít sign anything until you fully understand it. If in doubt Ė ask!

  
The London MagazineSend us your work, Iím always hungry for new and undiscovered talent, so donít be put off by a lack of experience. I try to offer opportunities for performance at our regular launch events.
  
Long Barn BooksAre you SURE you know what you`re doing ? and write by all means, for your own interest and pleasure but don`t assume you will ever be published Ė after all, many thousands of people paint for pleasure and certainly don`t expect to sell or even exhibit their work. And if you are published, don`t expect fame and fortune.
Read read read and read again. Read the great writers of past and present, not to copy but to learn from Ė and be humbled and encouraged by.
Try not to write a me-book. If you are using your writing as therapy fine but never assume your therapy is of any interest to anyone apart from yourself and possibly your therapist.
I would never say never give up because frankly, a lot of people should, honourably, decide they should do just that. If you are born to be a writer you won`t give up anyway.
  
Macmillan New WritingAny advice for new writers?
Read! And write (easy to overlook in the battle to get published!).
  
Mark BoothDonít hold back, however absurd your idea.
  
Mark Liam PiggottDonít write to be popular.
  
MBA Literary AgentsJoin groups, enter prizes, learn as much as possible about the business, be professional with your submission. Get the agent or editorís attention by a clever Ďshoutlineí Ė or just the sheer sparkle and brilliance of your writing!
  
Meg PeacockeMaybe an injunction: you must read. I mean, close-up repeated, listening reading of anything that speaks to you, old or new; because thatís how you absorb the tradition and the craft. Oh Ė and long fishing in a good etymological dictionary, because words are your materials and your tools and you need to know as much as you can about them.
  
Michael Rosen InterviewRead, read, read. Write, write, write. Go to poetry performances. Be part of poetry so that you can join in. Read as widely as you can. Be as diverse as you can. Read things that you know you couldnít write as well as things that you wish you could or perhaps could.
  
Michelene WandorIf you are serious about writing, keep going.
  
Mighty EruditeDonít ever feel that you need to write like someone else. Work in a community like WriteWords to get feedback, give feedback and stay supported through the writing process. All the other best advice has already been said.
  
Mike Wilson Write, write and write more, write again, read good writing, but write. Be aware of the need for correct spelling and punctuation. Printers and publishers no longer employ "correctors of the press" as they were once called. They rely more and more on the author sending them perfect copy. So it's no good telling them that "spelling is not my strong point." Make it so! And the same with punctuation. Get it right. If you don't care about your writing, why should anyone else? Start with letters to your local editor. He'll put anything in the paper to fill his columns. Some of the poetry in our local free sheet is diabolical! Then try one of the magazines who accept letters. Keep writing. Send stuff to the Daily Mail. I've had three "One-Line Philosophers" printed. Just make them up and send them in.
  
Mother's Milk BooksPeople often forget that a lot of the Ďworkí of writing is thinking through ideas. It can be incredibly useful to frequently ask of a piece of writing: Where is this going? What am I really trying to say here?

Practise writing! Any kind of writing is helpful in honing skills, be it writing emails or blog posts. Check over your writing and then double check it for grammatical and typographical errors. Being pedantic can be a good thing!

Lastly, believe in yourself. Keep putting your work out there, and if youíre determined (and very, very patient) thereís no doubt itíll bear fruit.


  
Neil ForsythI feel a bit ridiculous doing so with only one or two books behind me. But, for me, I think that writing at an initial stage is as dependent on motivation and self-belief as any other choice in life. I essentially bluffed my way into journalism, and have pretty much done the same with writing at a wider level. Itís not a magical, inaccessible world and it can be easily reached.
  
Nik PerringI think the best piece of advice Iíve heard is: read a lot and write a lot.

Writing isnít something that anyone gets right first time; itís something that needs to be worked at. That means a lot of revising, rewriting, editing and hard work. Iíd also advise (without meaning to sound too preachy, see what I mean?) to treat it with respect. You canít rush something off in half an hour, or with a hangover. Be thorough, be determined and stick at it. And donít be put off by rejection.

  
Patricia CumperLearn everything you can about structure, character, narrative drive, etc. etc. Then forget it and write from your heart!
  
Paul ReedDo something every day to guide you towards your goal [being a published writer]. Goals are very important. Also, look inside yourself to know others. If you learn a bit about yourself it can go a long way towards generating believable characters. As Carl Jung said "Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens."
  
Peter RobertsonNever give up and never fall prey to despondency. Fine writer though she is, I donít agree with Susan Hill when she says that giving up is precisely what many writers should do. Now that I look back on fiction I wrote a decade agoóand at the time I was certain that it was second to noneóI see that, while there was certainly the germ of potential there, the writing was not of such a high calibre. In writerly terms, I am a lot better now than I was ten years ago, and almost all writers tend to improve over time. Also, I would advise writers against accepting an Editorís opinion as definitiveónot all are necessarily blessed with literary savvy. Letís not forget the case of Dorris Lessing who, as an experiment, decided to send a manuscript to her publisher, making out that it came from someone else, an unknown writer. The manuscript was rejected. Finally, there is always strength in numbers and so I would urge writers to construct networks for mutual encouragement, support and advice.

  
Poolbeg PressMake sure the material is the best it can be - practice makes perfect.
Spend time on the presentation/layout Ė make sure that you research the publishing companies thoroughly and find out who publishes what Ė it will save you time and heartache.
Most importantly, have patience.
  
Preethi NairTips Ė believe in yourself, in your writing and your instinct. Practical advice Ė join writers circles, go to talks where your favourite writers are speaking (writing is only half the battle, getting out is another thing so you have to build up contacts). If you really believe in yourself and your work, you will never take no for an answer and there will be plenty of those along the way unless you are really lucky.
  
Rebecca StrongJust that you have to find a system that works for you. Some people spend years writing a novel, some a few weeks. If you find that you often hit a literary impasse, planning out the story might help, but donít stick to a rigid plan just because youíve made one when it clearly isnít working for the story. Above all, enjoy it, bear your reader in mind at all times, and trust your instincts.
  
Rosy BarnesJoin forums! The support and friendship I received on WW has been invaluable Ė plus you get much more of an idea of what to expect and how things work. Take advice, but filter it. A lot. And be confident. You will never know if youíre good enough so you might as believe it anyway and you definitely need a large doze of the stuff if you are going to get anywhere.
  
Rosy ThorntonDonít give up when you get heaps of rejections. I could paper the spare room with mine.
  
Sally NichollsWhy strive to be a second-rate J K Rowling or Enid Blyton, when you could be a first-rate Sally Nicholls? Creating a book is about creating a world and the world as you see it is unique, so write the book that only you can write. Glory in the fact that first drafts are supposed to be rubbish and use them to try out all the random ideas in your head without worrying about how good they might be.

Keats said you should only write if writing comes to you as easily as leaves to a tree. Fortunately, Keats was talking crap. He used to write in his garden and throw all his first drafts of poems into his hedge so no one would find out that heíd redrafted them. Donít be afraid of redrafting and redrafting and redrafting - try lots of different ways of telling your story until you find one that works. Get as much feedback as you can, but donít let it stop you telling the story you want to tell. Donít be discouraged if writing is hard, it just means youíre doing it right. And remember that all published authors were unpublished once. If they all did it, so can you.

  
Script Factory InterviewREAD LOTS OF GOOD PRODUCED SCREENPLAYS! You cannot learn writing craft by watching films. Always listen undefensively to comments about your work. Be willing to shape, create and lose material to serve your story. Be patient. No one owes you film, you have to earn it. I think this is hard because so much work goes into getting a draft written, but thatís the way it is and the next stage is the one that writers should think of as the beginning, and be prepared to reinvest the energy, time and commitment that is required to succeed. And be nice! Make sure people want to work with you.
  
Sean Costello Find someone whose opinion you can trust to give you some feedback on your work. Before submitting anything for consideration, spend some time on market research and try to target the right publishers or agents. (WriteWords is an excellent place to start!)
  
ShearsmanFirst, try reading. And then read more. And then more. And keep doing it. Iím always amazed by the number of people writing poetry who donít read it. No one would write novels without having read one; likewise no one would write string quartets without having heard one; ditto pop songs. Reading a lot of other work would save many new writers from inadvertently doing whatís already been done a thousand times better by others.

Itís a craft as well as an art, and some of the craft aspects can be learned: go to writing groups; go to places like The Poetry School, the Arvon Foundation courses Ė all of these are valuable for finding your way.

Beginners are of all ages, of course, but young beginners often mistake sincerity of feeling for quality of end product: yes, war is awful; yes, losing your girl-/boy-friend is heartbreaking; yes, the world can be a tough place. All of that needs distilling in some way: just saying War is Awful does not constitute an interesting artistic statement.
  
Shelley Weiner Thereís no point at all in wanting to be a writer Ė itís much more to do with wanting to write, having something to say. It doesnít have to be a deep profound truth that you want to communicate Ė just a sense of excitement, a story you want to tell. The craftís important too Ė and, when I teach creative writing, I focus a lot on clarity and control. And one thing I always warn new writers about is the compulsion to show work to people whose agenda may be dubious. Friends, partners, parents. One way of identifying a helpful reader is to find someone who cares primarily about the writing. This is why a workshop environment led by a sympathetic professional can be so good.
  
Short Story RadioMy advice to any writer who wants to make money from writing, as opposed to writing purely for pleasure, is to research and know your market. If you want to submit work to a particular publisher or broadcaster you should have a very good understanding of what they are looking for. Take time to study their requirements and the work of writers who have already had success with them. Some writers don't like to think about the commercial aspect of their work. That's fine, but that is when you have to decide whether you want to write as a career or a hobby.

Writing is a solitary business, so a support network of like-minded people is essential for developing your work and saving your sanity! Writing groups can be a great way to hone your craft and have fun in the process.

  
Slightly Foxed Only write a book if you really cannot stop yourself. It requires passion and commitment. If you have those, then keep at it Ė discouragement and rejection come with the territory. Research your market Ė read the magazines and papers you are submitting pieces or stories to, and look in bookshops to see which publishers are publishing your kind of book. Try to get professional advice, or input from other writers, on what you write Ė donít rely on friends, who are often embarrassed to criticize and want you to be happy. And realize that an ordinary setting well observed is far more interesting than an exotic one about which you know nothing.
  
Stella DuffyKeep going. Do it for yourself because if you're not interested in your own work, you can probably bet someone else isn't gong to be. And then, when you've done it for yourself, you might STILL have to re-write it in order to reach other people. Trust that re-working is valuable. And then send it out. Books left in bottom drawers never get published.
  
Steve FeaseyDonít give up. Self-doubt and disbelief are a writerís biggest enemies, and while you need them to focus your creativity, if you let them get too strong a hold on you they can be extremely damaging.
  
Steven HagueDonít give up on your dreams. Stay stubborn, and stay focussed on your goals. If you truly believe that you have written a book that deserves to be published, then stick at it. Perseverance is key Ė you make your own luck in this world
  
Tania HershmanWhat I would say is that the more you write, the more you write. Find yourself a writing group, online or in person, because doing it alone is hard. Let yourself be inspired, helped by those who are a little further along. I learned so much from the various one-week workshops I went on Ė in the UK and the US. I am always learning. And here is my strongest advice: get rejected! Pile up those rejections. Just do it. If you're not getting rejected, you're not getting your work out there enough. Each rejection is less of a blow if you know you have other stories doing the rounds, or the same story submitted elsewhere. The acceptances taste far sweeter if you have a mountain of rejection letters.
  
Tara HylandGet feedback on your work. I always hit a wall with a book Ė that time when I know something isnít quite right, but I canít put my finger on it. Getting some third party feedback at that stage is so helpful. A fresh pair of eyes can see something that you couldnít, no matter how much time you spent.

  
The EphemeraWriters as well as readers must be certain of their own tastes. They must have the ability and application to argue and fight for their case on all fronts. It is not important for them to be right all the time but passion is key.
  
The LadyBuy a copy of the magazine (not just read the website) to gauge what kind of stories we publish.
  
Tim LottActually putting words onto paper is the smallest part of writing. Imagining is the biggest part.
  
Tumbleweed TVThe same advice we try to follow Ė donít give up. Be persistent, but not in a hassley stalker kind of way. And be realistic. Especially if youíre working with a small company like us. We canít afford to pay writers a lot of money. Or even some money. So collaborations are done on spec, just as all our time and effort is in working with the writer. And hopefully something good will come out of it.

I heard Julian Fellowes talk once about how people were amazed he had won an Oscar for Gosford Park when it was his first script, and how lucky he was. When in fact it was about his sixteenth script. It just so happened that Gosford Park was the one that got the break. I thought that was a good thing to remember when writing your next script.
  
William ColesWell - I'm a bit loth to start doling out advice, because there are so many different ways of writing - and what might work for me might be absolutely dire for somebody else. But what I can say is that unless you're a genius or have a huge stroke of luck, then you're going to need one hell of a lot of tenacity and self-belief. So that means you've just got to stick with it. You keep plugging away until you get a hit.
I particularly admire Trollope - in that the very moment he finished a book, he'd immediately start on the next project. I think that's a great way to write, especially if you're starting out. It means you're not putting all your eggs into one basket.
  
Writer's MuseWrite a lot.

Keep writing. Keep submitting. Look at all your writing as serving an apprenticeship.

Feedback from writers Iíve spoken to suggests that if submitted work gets rejected several times they give up, believing that they havenít got Ďití.

The apprenticeship means doing homework. Look at the market youíre aiming for, look at their house style and write in that style (easy option). If you donít want to change your piece to suit their style then change the market youíre looking at until you find one that suits your style (much harder).

Read a lot.

When youíre rejected you rarely get a reason. That silence isnít an implicit criticism. It simply could mean that your work doesnít fit in with what they want at the moment, or theyíve had a similar piece recently.

If, instead of the above customary absence of comment, you get a murmur of a response, rejoice. It means youíve been noticed.

John Fowles had The French Lieutenantís Woman rejected, as far as Iím aware, upwards of a dozen times. John Creasey, crime writer and co-founder of the British Crime Writersí Association, had over 740 pieces rejected before selling his first story.

Your measly collection of half a dozen compliment slips means youíre a genius.

I would urge any new writers to research and refine all the time and to look at writing websites, magazines and libraries. Always, though, keep an open mind and donít believe everything is obligatory and essential. Choose what works for you and be methodical.

If you take constructive advice and criticism seriously, genuinely believe you have something to say, and are a good writer, thereís no reason not to be accepted before long.
  
The Writers' WorkshopShow; donít tell! It seems that this old chestnut just canít be emphasized enough.
  
Zoe Fairbairns At the risk of sounding like a Nike ad - just do it.