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Tips for writers 2

Magazine

Learn on the job

The second set of our new pages of tips for writers

  1. It’s really difficult to work on your writing on your own, so think about joining a writers’ group. These have sprung up all over the place and offer mutual support, discussion and critiquing. Groups are not for everyone, but for many writers they provide companionship on the lonely road to publication. If you can’t find a local writers’ group which feels right for you and which is open to new members, you could consider starting your own.
  2. Think seriously about going on a course. Good courses for writers have become very widely available over the last few years and can be an excellent way of honing your skills. They range from short seminars to evening classes and even residential courses, weekends or longer, which double up as holidays, and some of them are in lovely locations. Of course the standard varies, but go for reputable institutions or well-established names and you will find a well-taught course which really can help with developing your writing. You will also have the opportunity to get out and meet other writers who are in the same boat as you are, and that ‘s very valuable in this most lonely of occupations. For many writers the more structured environment of a course is also both motivating and congenial, and getting away from everyday pressures helps you to concentrate.
  3. You could also consider embarking on a creative writing course at a college or university. There are different views about how well these equip you to become a published writer but many students find them tremendously enjoyable and they do develop your writing and take it to another level. Only a few writers will be in a position to think seriously about this, because of career, financial and family pressures, but the huge growth in university courses testifies to the enthusiasm students can bring to the full-time study of writing.
  4. Read up on the subject of writing. Due to the growth in the number of people who have taken up writing there are a large number of excellent books published for aspiring writers. If you’re the kind of person who prefers to work away at something on your own, the right book might be the most helpful guide for you. The explosion in the publishing of books for writers means that there really are a lot of books to choose from and you will be able to find exactly the right books for you. Our WritersBookstall has over 200 carefully categorised books for writers and may be the easiest way to get an idea of the range available, but any big bookshop should have a writers’ section. Our book reviews may help you to track down what you’re looking for.


Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage.

See also An Editor's Advice on doing further drafts and manuscript presentation

Writersbookstall titles on grammar

Tips for Writers 1: Improving your writing
Tips for Writers 2: Learn on the job
Tips for Writers 3: New technology and the Internet
Tips for Writers 4: Self-publishing - is it for you?
Tips for Writers 5: Promoting your writing (and yourself)
Tips for Writers 6: Other kinds of writing
Tips for Writers 7: Keep up to date
Tips for Writers 8: Submission to publishers and agents

© Chris Holifield 2008-9