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Write On! Interviews: Writing Advice From Writers

As we near the very end of 2023, it’s the perfect time to look back at all the insightful advice we’ve had this past year from the 50 authors we’ve interviewed.

“I think you have to be a little selfish to be a writer and it’s important to not feel guilty about that. Mark out your writing time and guard it fiercely.”
Diane Simmons


“I think the best advice I could give to any aspiring writer is to give yourself time. By all means, it’s good to have time frames and an idea of when you would like the book completed. However, having a peaceful mind is key to your creativity. Life can be seriously hectic at times, therefore, time management is key in setting time to write.”
Paula Watson


“Without question, it would be to not hide the aspirations from the world. The fear of ridicule was next level; however, when I shared my work and shared that it would be a dream to be published, I was actively cheered on and given positive and constructive feedback by this audience. I continued to share my progress and the highs and the lows and it really helped my confidence. Don’t sit alone in a corner with a notepad and laptop; shout about your ambition and push forward.”
Laura Maclennon


(c) Seth Hamilton
“Take a break and come back to a piece with fresh eyes. Keep your writing momentum going by having your next project in mind.”
Jessica Andrews



“Character is everything.  Start with your character. The reader must connect with them – care about or hate or be fascinated by the character. You must know them and write them richly and fully and feel a strong sense of knowing of them.”
Lel Meleyal


“I feel everyone has an inner voice or an inner talent/idea we sometimes refuse to allow to come forth, or even feel it has any great importance. The one poem I wrote  22 years ago built the bulldozer to the barrier to my creativity and to the inspiration I had about putting what I learned about life, psychology and parenting into a board game to help others. Belief in oneself and pursuing it, regardless of the outcome, is important and to continue with one’s passion is the drive we all need. We just need to try!”
Aneela Rajput


“Find your own voice, through experimenting with writing but also through reading. I write how I like to read and this includes things such as short chapters and multiple points of view. Explore books to find your author inspiration and to learn more about what you like and don’t like. Authors will absolutely impact on you as a writer and the work they produce that stays with you long after the book is closed will encourage you to write.

Realise you have to work hard and no one is going to do it for you. Even a publishing deal is a partnership. Your work never ends (but it’s the most amazing job).

Develop a thick skin. Not everyone will love your work, but some people will think it’s the best thing in the world. Focus on the positive. Be grateful.

Access support through the writing communities on social media. People I clicked on have become friends for life. They get it, the positives and the negatives. This is even more crucial if writers don’t have much support around them in their everyday life.”
Helen Aitchinson


“Read a lot and write a lot! Try to read widely, inside and outside of your chosen genre or area of interest. Write to a schedule that makes sense to you, but aim to finish things. It’s very easy to be seduced by the new shiny idea and never actually get the experience of ploughing through the difficult bits, completing a first draft, then going back and polishing or overhauling sections.”
Cailean Steed


“I would say just write and don’t ask too many people for their opinions. Often, if you get negative feedback, even before you have found your feet as a writer, it can stop you from writing. I would also say to join writing groups and classes you can afford. Writing classes are a wonderful way of finishing projects and getting writing done. A friend of mine writes pieces only when there is a competition to enter. It helps her complete work that would otherwise stay unfinished or, worse, unwritten.”
Preetha Chockalingam


“KEEP GOING! Write for yourself and because of how it makes you feel. Be sure to take breaks and try not to force material. For creativity, writers need space, rest and time.

I recommend getting your work out there, by submitting to open calls, for example. Keep an eye out on Instagram; there’s also great writing prompts for if you ever have writers block.”


“The more you put into your writing, the more you will get out of it.”
Zara Relphman


Palak’s Tips For New Poets
“Put down your thoughts first
Learn to enjoy writing free verse
Use words in the best way that makes sense to you
You can always learn the technicalities later.”
Palak Tewary


“Tell yourself each and every day of your life: “I’m a writer.” Then do what writers do. Write. And share your writing with anyone who’ll listen, until any last trace of imposter syndrome vanishes.”
Patrick Kealy


“Write about things you love. Your writing will then flow easily.”
Hope Roberts


“Forget you are writing and just stay in the story.”
Jenny Valentine


“You keep turning up at the page and it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. As a writer, you always reach the stage where you think, ‘This sucks, I suck,’ but you have to keep morale up, be kind to yourself.”

John O’Farrell


“Read, read and read! I’m often astonished by the numbers of people who want to write poetry but say they don’t actually read any. I’d also advise any aspiring poet to read their own work aloud (or get someone to read it back to them), so they can hear where the music is working, or indeed where it might not be.”
Ruth Wiggins


“Find a writing routine that works for you. The biggest thing stopping you is most often finding the time, so instead of setting unrealistic goals which will make you feel like a failure when you don’t meet them, be flexible but consistent in your approach. We all lead busy lives, so the only person who can set your routine and target word count, etc. is yourself. Every word counts and they soon add up.”
Emma Heatherington


“Read anything and everything you can lay your hands on, while at the same time learning to develop your own unique voice and style. Practice writing something every day. Start a blog, keep a diary, enter competitions, join a writers group, go on workshops. Immerse yourself in the whole process. You will learn so much and make new friends as well, and then you can support each other.”
Clare Cooper


(c) Billie Charity
“For festivals to be truly inclusive, they need to engage with their audiences through co-production. For us it’s about real dialogue, having a public consultation and working directly with people who don’t come to Hay. Festivals also need to reach out to different cultural and religious groups to understand how to make physical spaces more welcoming.”
Julie Finch, Hay Festival CEO


“Have faith in yourself! Everyone experiences setbacks and failures, but success comes to those who are persistent. Have faith in your own instincts as well; if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, and if something’s exciting, then chase it!”
Emma Rosen


“Keep writing, don’t give up. Try different genres to see what works for you.”
Dee Gordon


“Everybody is different and will have developed or will develop their own way of working, but when you reach an impasse, don’t get disheartened. Believe what you do has meaning and don’t be afraid to let go sometimes. You have to give yourself space. I once felt I should keep tidy notes; now I accept they are chaotic. Think about keeping sketches and scrapbooks, snippets of film, perhaps. Remember that the mind is a mischievous thing, and remember to read!”
David Yeats


“None of these characters are me, but if I write what I know emotionally because of the journey in life I’ve had, and the people and landscapes that have expanded my world, then I can start to think from different perspectives. When you write from different perspectives, you grow as a writer, too. I think that’s what all the arts are about: trying to step into somebody else’s shoes. And, not just their shoes, but to get a sense of what it would be like to see the world through that person’s eyes.”

Sita Brahmachari


“Just write. If that sounds basic… it is. I don’t typically find a lot of writing guides to be helpful because we all have different methods: some people like to write at night, some people prefer the morning. Some people need total peace and quiet, some people like doing it in busy coffee shops. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

But you have to push through. The best advice I ever received was that, even if you write ten pages of rubbish, that means you’ll sit down the next day with something to work with. It helped me a lot, especially with my latest project.”
Stephen Leach


“Follow your fingers, whether they’re holding a pen or pounding a keyboard.  Let the words roll out and worry about editing afterwards.”
Jill Anabona Smith


“Read. Read the genre you’re writing in and study good dialogue. As Stephen King says: ‘If you don’t have time to read, you shouldn’t be writing.'”
Alexa Whitten


“Know your target audience.”
Ranti Beyioku


 “I love being out and about in the world, interacting with people. I’m at my most productive when I have a kind of scheme in mind.”
Brian Bilston


“Write every day, even if it’s just a couple of paragraphs, and don’t aim for perfection.”
Hilda Kalap


“Don’t view yourself as an aspiring writer. You’re a writer. Full stop. Now go and write something extraordinary.”
Frasier Armitage


“Believe in yourself. If your soul is calling you to write, that’s what makes you a writer. Don’t wait for acclamation from the outside world. Just write, and keep on writing, and know you are learning with every word you write. Keep your love for writing alive, and write every day for the sheer joy of it!”
Deidre Cartmill


“Join a writing group and make friends with fellow writers. Joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association has been the best writing decision I ever made.”
Andrea Davis


 Don’t keep it to yourself. If you want to do it, you will just find yourself doing it and, before you know it, you can’t stop doing it!”

Gill Adams



“Just write. Write loads, write all the time, and eventually, as with anything else you practise a lot, you’ll be great at it.”
Natasha Pulley


“Let what you long for fuel what you write, and write the book you most want to read.”
Emma Styles


“If you don’t view yourself as very talented, keep going, for talent is not entirely born but made, and it’s made through the placing of relentless demands upon the creative centres of your brain. Keep going. Above all, keep going, especially when people tell you that you are wasting your time. No time is wasted in this endeavour.”
Anthony McCarten


“Persevere. It worked for me! It took me 13  years to write Black Butterflies (and it’s far from a tome) and I know all the doubts and blocks that can beset you. The thing is, if you really want to write and are passionate about the story you have to tell, keep on going. You’ll get there in the end.”
Priscilla Morris

(c) Kevin Nixon/SFX Magazine


 “Don’t do it. It’s kind of like a curse. These days I get itchy and irritable if I don’t write. It’s a horrible affliction!”
Lavie Tidhar


“I’d say, join a writing class. However good a writer you are, you can’t beat the experience of reading out your work to others, and giving and receiving feedback. If you try a class and don’t like it, keep looking until you find one that suits you and encourages your writing.”
Alice Fowler


“Decide on the style you would like to write in. Research and explore materials relevant to them. Then use this knowledge to extract vital material that will form substance for your writing. Finally, never give up!”
Mary Akangbe


“Believe in yourself first and foremost. Since publishing my book, I have heard many people tell me: “I’ve wanted to write for so long but can’t find the motivation”, when really I believe it boils down to lack of confidence and not wanting to take that leap of faith in oneself.”
KE Milligan


“It has to be perseverance. That has to be the main quality you have to nurture and depend on. Writing is very challenging and getting that writing noticed is even harder. Also, I think it’s important to enjoy what you’re doing. Ultimately, writing is a personal exercise and expression.”
Rob Edmunds


“Try to read as a writer would: slow down, take notes, examine language and plot construction and pay attention to voice. Join a writing class and listen to feedback; every writer needs readers and editors. But most of all, keep going and believe that your story matters!”
Gita Ralleigh


“I’m sceptical about writing ‘advice’, not because it’s misleading but because I think it’s often difficult for writers to know when, where and how to apply that advice. The old tropes like ‘write what you know’ can be helpful, but it’s hard to understand the intricacies of how that works on a practical level without years of practice. For me, developing your writing skills goes hand-in-hand with developing your character as a person. Reflecting on yourself, your attitudes, relationships, traumas – all of these things will help hone your instincts in working out the stories that are true to you and that only you are able to tell.”
Joe Bedford


“Persevere. A true writer can’t help themselves and will keep writing, despite every hurdle and rejection.”
Richard C McNeef


(c) Anne Thomas Storytelling
“A writer can’t just hand over her stuff to a publisher and expect the publisher to do all the promotion work, because they just don’t, so I have to be a business woman as well as a writer.”
Elen Sentier


“Sometimes you just need to stop. Put the paper/laptop down and return when your mind is ready. One moment you can describe vast battle scenes, and suddenly you are struggling to describe the hue of a spoon. Your mind, like your body, needs rest.”
DWA Mavin


“If you have a burning urge to tell a story, there’s someone with a burning urge to read it!”
Nkiru Agbabiaka


(c) Faye Thomas
“If you can decode the words of a text, no matter if it’s from thousands of years ago, then you’re hearing a voice speaking through time, to you.”
Paterson Joseph


You can’t be anything less than inspired after reading all that writerly advice! Everyone here at Pen to Print and Write On! wishes you an extremely creative and fruitful 2024.


Issue 19 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets. You can find previous editions of our magazines here

You can hear great new ideas, creative work and writing tips on Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo, or find us on


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Writing Advice From Writers