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Just do it

12 June 2017

'You learn the most from sitting down and doing the work, regularly, patiently, sometimes in hope, sometimes despairingly. When you have something that seems complete, show your work to people you trust to be honest but not malicious. Put it aside for six months and reread it. Expect to be disgusted by your own early work. If writing is your vocation, if you hope that it might be your salvation, push on through the disgust until you find one true sentence, a few words that say more than you expected, something you didn't know until you set it down.

There are no "tips" for this process really; it's painstaking and intense and doesn't often feel pleasant. However, I think there are tips for how to sit your bum on the chair and do the work.

Stop reading so many articles on the internet about how to write. You're allowed one a week. Instead, spend that time actually writing.

Write for 15 minutes every day. Set a time in advance, set a timer. Try to write at the same time every day. Your subconscious will get used to the idea and will start to work like a reliable water spout.

Remind yourself, every day, that you're doing this to try to find something out about yourself, about the world, about words and how they fit together. Writing is investigation. Just keep seeking.'

Naomi Alderman, author of Disobedience and The Power, which has just won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2017, in the Guardian