Risky Writing – Margaret Atwood

When you are looking for tips on writing, go to the experts. On a recent creative writing course, one of the more interesting aspects for me was listening to successful writers. Margaret Atwood is the author of over forty books published in more than thirty-five countries. Everyone has different approaches, but some of us want to know that successful authors still put their pants on one leg at a time. There is no ethereal elixir available to only the chosen few.

Just another crazy idea

So you think your mad ideas are too far-fetched? Maybe not. You are unique and your ideas may be just what people would like to read. There is only one way to find out. Remember when you were a child and created entire worlds out of an empty lot or a mud puddle? We did this for many reasons. Escape is one. Problem-solving is another. The main thing is to play, let it flow. Others may have just as much fun with it as you do.

Having trouble starting?

Perhaps it’s just a matter of putting your ideas down on paper. Yes, paper. I don’t mean keeping a regular journal of ideas because, while it works for some, it certainly doesn’t work for everyone. Choose what works for you, but keep that pen and paper handy just in case. What about those moments when something comes to you that you want to get down right away? It’s 3 a.m. and you wake up with the most brilliant idea you’ve ever had. Will you remember in the morning? Probably not.

Do you need to have a plan?

No, not really. All you need is an idea. Of course, if you work best with a full layout of the plot and characters, that is how you should work. On the other hand, if you have no idea where the story is going, that’s fine too. The main thing is to start writing and your characters will often take it from there.

Mix it up!

Get comfortable! It might mean getting up at 4 a.m. when the world is quiet and the ideas seem to come streaming in from the ether. Perhaps you work better late at night. Some writers, J. K. Rowling for instance, wrote in cafes. The only right way to write is what works for you. Try a few things. I discovered many ideas while riding city buses (another reason to keep pen and paper handy) and words came into my head so effortlessly it felt like cheating. Other times, it’s just plain hard work day after day, year after year. Sit back with a cup of coffee and start the weekend with Margaret Atwood’s ideas on writing. Then get ready to take some risks and start creating! Duck, duck, go! Want a little more inspiration? Pour a second cup and listen to Stephen King.


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