Zadie Smith is a woman I will turn to again and again in the literary world---and here are her top tips for writers out there.
"1 When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
2 When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
3 Don't romanticise your "vocation". You can either write good sentences or you can't. There is no "writer's lifestyle". All that matters is what you leave on the page.
4 Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can't do aren't worth doing. Don't mask self-doubt with contempt.
5 Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
6 Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won't make your writing any better than it is.
7 Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.
8 Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
9 Don't confuse honours with achievement.
10 Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied."
And whilst I am never sure how useful these things are, that last sentence gets me every time---too true, I always think, too true.
I keep telling myself that when my exams are done and my work is handed in, I will get back to this thing called writing. I hope, more than anything, that I stay true to my (self-uttered, self-heard) word.
(Source, The Guardian).