Martin Amis’s advice to Writers
- Write in long-hand: when you scratch out a word, it still exists there on the page. On the computer, when you delete a word it disappears forever. This is important because usually your first instinct is the right one.
- Minimum number of words to write every day: no “quota”: Sometimes it will be no words. Sometimes it will be 1500.
- Use any anxiety you have about your writing — or your life — as fuel: “Ambition and anxiety: that’s the writer’s life”
- Never say ‘sci-fi.’ You’ll enrage purists. Call it SF.
- Don’t dumb down: always write for your top five percent of readers.
- Never pun your title, simpler is usually better: “Lolita turns out to be a great title; couldn’t be simpler.”
- At Manchester (University, where he teaches creative writing) my rule is I don’t look at their work. We read great books, and we talk about them … We look at Conrad, Dostoyevsky.
- When is an idea is worth pursuing in novel-form? “It’s got to give you a kind of glimmer,
- Watch out for words that repeat too often.
- Don’t start a paragraph with the same word as previous one. That goes doubly for sentences.
- Stay in the tense.
- Inspect your ‘hads’ and see if you really need them.
- Never use ‘amongst.’ ‘Among.’ Never use ‘whilst.’ Anyone who uses ‘whilst’ is subliterate.
- Try not to write sentences that absolutely anyone could write.
- You write the book you want to read. That’s my rule.
- You have to have a huge appetite for solitude.
From The Literary Tourist
Image The Guardian