Wednesday, 14 October 2020


 Continuing my Blog from last month, which revisits some Tips for Writers put forward by fellow-writers at a writers' retreat last year, and updates them for use during the current pandemic.  Last month I revisited the first 12 tips, so this month I continue with:

13 Shut the door!  Protect your working space.   

This is particularly apt during lockdown if your children are home from school and your partner is working from home too – it’s all too easy to allow them to take over your working space, so DO shut the door on it.  Put up a useful notice if you like, eg “DANGER – WRITER AT WORK!  ONLY DISTURB IF THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE.

14 Try to recapture the joy.

This may be rather difficult at the moment, when the news, social media etc. keep telling you daily how terrible everything is, and how much worse things are going to get, but do your best.  The joy is still there, somewhere, and one day we will be out the other side of this pandemic, and we will need joyful people.


15 Anything that helps your writing, do more of it.  Anything that doesn’t help, do less of it.

What a brilliant piece of advice!  And this is still the same, even at the present time – do as much as you can of whatever helps your writing (such as walking, painting, cooking, even cleaning (?)).  And try to avoid doing things that definitely don’t help, such as watching the news, listening to politicians arguing etc.  (In my case, cleaning comes into this category, but everyone’s different!)

16 Learn to listen.

Not to politicians arguing, but to people talking, either to you or to each other – you can pick up some useful ideas like this!  And of course to anyone, agent, editor or Beta reader, offering advice, even if you don’t think it’s particularly helpful at the time.  Sometimes you can go back and realise there was a germ of truth in it, or, alternatively, that you were definitely right in the first place.  Both are useful!

17 If things are going badly, tell yourself “This too will pass.”

OH YES!  Especially at the moment.  The pandemic will pass, even if it takes longer than we’d all anticipated, but it WILL pass one day.  And so will whatever writing problem is bugging you at the moment. 


18 Keep to a writing routine, eg start writing at 9.30 on the dot.

Whoever suggested this one evidently had a good reason to start writing at 9.30, though some readers of my original blog thought this was far too late (and possibly others thought it was far too early!)  It really doesn’t matter what time you start, but the important part of this tip is Keep to a Writing Routine that suits you!  Everyone’s family issues are different, so it’s hard to make a routine that suits us all, but if you can possibly stick to it, it will help you!


19 Accept any writing-based offers.

Oh yes, this is such a good one.  Before this pandemic I was rather unsure about accepting writing-based offers, thinking they really needed a Big Name, ie someone better than me.  But now, as some readers of my previous blogs may remember, I’m reading my books on local radio every week, and loving it!  The fact that the chance to do it came because of another part of my life, my membership and co-chairmanship of a local Recorded Music Society, was what led me to realise it was me they wanted, not anyone else.  It was because of our connection with the society that my husband and I were asked to present a Classical Music programme on local radio every week, which we happily agreed to do, especially because since the pandemic our society has been unable to meet.  Then my husband said, “Well, Lynne writes books, so if you want someone to read children’s stories too…” and they jumped at it!  So yes, now, if anyone else invites me to talk or participate in some event, I shall jump at that too!

20 List three positive things that happen each day.

What a good idea!  In the midst of so much doom and gloom, coming up with three positive things every day can only help to raise your spirits.  It doesn’t matter how small these things are – it could be something like “my normally bad-tempered neighbour smiled at me”, or “I had a nice chat on the phone with a friend”.  So yes, do that!


21 Make a “business morning” once a week to deal with all business matters.  Don’t feel you have to reply to everyone instantly.

Another excellent idea – business matters can be so boring, so it’s a really good idea to bunch them all together and deal with them all at once, rather than dragging them out through the week.  And for people who don’t find them boring, (there may be some around, I suppose?) that day will be something to look forward to every week!

 22  Learn to accept praise!  If someone praises you and/or your work, don’t say “Oh well, it’s only…”  Just smile and say, “Thank you.”

Yes, it’s still the case that you have to accept praise wherever you can find it!  It’s hard not to say “oh well it’s only” when someone else has had a big book published (which must have taken years to write) while your own is a little book for early readers.  Yours is still a book that you’ve had to work on in order to fit in with the guidelines, word count etc., and it’s achieved publication, which many people would give their eye teeth for, so it’s just as much of an achievement!

23 Praise other people's work - everyone needs appreciation!  Tell them how much you enjoyed their book/write a review of it on Amazon.

Oh yes, they certainly do!  I've often emailed a writer I know, even slightly, to tell them when I've really enjoyed their book, and I've reviewed it on Amazon, and they are always surprised and delighted that I've bothered.  Writers are not necessarily chock-full of confidence, no matter how Big their Names are!

24 Think positive!

Of course think positive.  Back to numbers 14, 17 and 20 - it's so important to think and behave as if this year is a mere blip in the great scheme of things, and the pandemic will be beaten eventually.  So by the time it's all over, you will have plenty of work under your belt (or on your computer!), ready to send out...

25 Don't give up!

This one almost goes without saying, though I have heard of people saying things like, “What’s the point?  Nobody’s going to want to read my book at the moment!  It’s only the Big Names that are going to get published.  Agents will be overwhelmed with manuscripts at the moment, so they won’t want mine.  Why should I keep flogging a dead horse?” etc. etc.  All wrong.  If you keep going, no matter what, you will soon have plenty of work ready to send out when you feel the time is right.  Which might be sooner than you think, so this is NOT a good time to give up.  Just carry on writing - and Good Luck!

Latest book:

The Giant and the Shoemaker
Published by Franklin Watts

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Penny Dolan said...

Great list, Lynne! I think the business morning (or whenever) would be a useful practice.

So often, remembering a bit of admin that needs to be done, I do it almost at once, stepping away from what I intended to do, or shove the business into a pile that grows noisier with guilt even while I ignore its contents.

Susan Price said...

'Noisier with guilt' -- I like it!
Personally, I prefer to deal with business matters asap. Then they're done. I can admire my own virtue for a moment and then forget it. But that's just me -- everybody adapts a method of coping with things that best suits them.

Lynne Benton said...

Thanks, Penny and Sue - and yes, my tax return gets noisier with guilt the longer I leave it! Great description!

Sheena Wilkinson said...

These are so helpful! Thank you, Lynne!