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Musings, Writing

Free writing advice

So, before I actually write this post, I’ll answer the question that many people are sure to ask if they come across this. ‘Who are you to give writing advice?’. I’m me. I’m a former martial arts journalist and features editor and wrote over 300 pieces for publication. I have a self-published martial arts book (long story, but it wasn’t supposed to be self-published, the royalties wokred out better that way). This year I made the resolution that I would write and I would get published and – so far – I’ve had 100% of my short story submissions accepted for publication this year. I have also written a steampunk novel (think Steampunk crossed with Shadowrun and you’re nearly there).

A lot of people say that they can’t write because they can’t even think how to begin a story. That is easy. Think basic. Think small. Think ‘Once upon a time …’ and then keep writing. Just bloody do it. You can change that bit once the story is complete.

Another group of people whine about the fact that ‘I don’t have enough time to write’. Get a smartphone, or an iPod. When you’re on the bus, write. When you’re on the loo, write. If you’re a man, sit down to piss and write. When you take a lunch break, write. If you don’t take lunch breaks 1) You’re a complete muppet 2) start taking them and write. When you’re watching TV, write. If you’re cooking the Sunday roast, write. If you don’t cook the Sunday roast, do so. If you take showers don’t. Take baths. Write whilst it’s filling up, and write whilst you’re soaking.

Basically write.

I wrote the first draft of my first-ever novel on my iPod as I walked into and from work – bad self-protection skills I know, but I’m hard so I let myself get away with it – I wrote when I was on the loo, I wrote during my lunch breaks. I just wrote.

If you don’t think you can write a book, write a short story. If you don’t think you can write a short story, do flash fiction.

To summarise. If you want to write, do so, but don’t use shitty excuses to avoid not doing it. Be honest with yourself, if you want to write but you’re scared to do so in case people don’t like it, write anyway. You can’t please people all of the time and whether YOU like it is irrelevant. If other people like it, you’ve done a good job. If some people don’t like it, so what? Not everyone likes Marmite. Does that mean it’s a bad product and that it should never be made again? No, it means that some people don’t like it.

So, (wo)man up and crack on. It’s simple … Once upon a time ….

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7. Matthew was Features Editor, Technical Consultant and regular columnist for magazines such as ‘Fighters’, ‘Combat’, ‘TKD & Korean Martial Arts’ and ‘Traditional Karate’. These are the four leading martial arts magazines in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots', which has been sold around the world. With regard to his martial arts background he has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 he hosted Professor Rick Clark of the ADK and since then has been studying pressure points and their uses in the martial arts and on the street (initially as a Special Constable and as a Door Supervisor). All of this practical hands-on experience means that he is uniquely placed to write fight scenes that are not only plausible but some of which are based on personal or anecdotal experience. Matthew has had a number of short stories published by Fringe Works, KnightWatch Press, Anderfam Press and Emby Press.


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