We're thrilled to welcome Liz Kessler, whose latest book, North of Nowhere, is thrilling, atmospheric and a wonderful read. Here's more about it:
"Mia's grandad has vanished and nobody knows why. When Mia and her mum go to support her grandma, Mia makes friends with local girl, Dee. But why does Dee seem so out of reach? Why does she claim to be facing violent storms when Mia sees only sunny skies? And can Mia solve the mystery and find her grandad before time and tide wash away his future?"
We asked Liz Kessler for some writing tips, and received the following brilliant advice...
My top writing tips
by Liz Kessler
I’ve given writing tips before. I even have some on my website. But I think your thoughts on this kind of thing can change over time, and it’s an interesting and useful one to revisit. So I’m going to share the five tips that have helped me most over the last year or so, and perhaps some of them will sound good to you too, and help you with your own writing.
1. One of the most life-changing things that happened to me in terms of my writing was when a good friend told me to think of writing a book as being like the seasons in a year. I loved this idea so much that I wrote a whole blog about it, which you can read here. In brief, the idea is that the process of writing a book is a bit like the changing seasons in a year. When you think you haven’t got ideas, it is just the winter of your book, with growth going on invisibly under the ground. Spring is when the ideas are starting to come. Summer you’re in full flow, and in the autumn you leave time for regeneration and new ideas to come. This idea revolutionised my feelings about writing and I have never used terms like ‘writer’s block’ or ‘stuck’ in regard to my writing ever since. But like I said, for the full story, do read my blog called Trusting the Seasons of Writing.
2. I don’t know how much you write, but if you are like me and do it full time, or even if you just spend a few hours every day at it, you might suffer from the same kind of back and neck complaints that I have. So my second writing tip is to look after your body! If you don’t, it won’t thank you for forcing it to sit hunched over a computer for hours on end. Take up yoga, do a few stretches, get up from your desk AT LEAST once an hour and walk around and shake your body out. Whatever you choose, do something. If your body is comfortable and happy, you are much more likely to feel free to leap into the wonderful and exciting worlds of your books.
3. And while we’re at it, look after your mind, too. I’ve recently started learning various forms of meditation, mostly some very simple and straightforward stuff. When I do it, I find that I am more relaxed and my mind is much more likely to be calm and open to a good session of creative thinking!
4. Now I know that a lot of writers will tell you to take a notebook everywhere you go – and I’ve said the same almost every time I’m asked for my writing tips. But as these tips are slightly more off the beaten track, I’m going to vary this one too. Rather than a notebook, the thing I make sure I ALWAYS have is a camera. I find that it is often something visual that sparks an idea for me, and even if I don’t have a notebook handy to jot down some words, as long as I can take a snap or two, I feel confident that I can come back to that image – and hopefully back to the feeling of inspiration with it.
5. This one comes from the wonderful book by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, and is one that I always benefit from when I remind myself of it. Remember to keep restocking the well. When we are creating something – whether it’s a story, a piece of art, whatever – we are drawing on our inner resources. Think of it as fetching water from a well. If we keep on emptying and emptying this well without restocking it, we will soon run dry. That’s when we start to feel bogged down and it all starts feeling like hard work. So we have to remember to keep the well stocked and filled up. There are all sorts of ways we can do this, and they will vary from person to person. In my case, it means remembering to play, to laugh, to dance maybe, to walk along the beach and breathe in the taste of the sea, to visit an art gallery from time to time, to go see a film on my own in the middle of the day. Yours might be similar, or could be completely different, but whatever your methods are, remember to do things that fill up your feelings of creativity, before you drain them dry.
I hope that some things on this list ring true for you, and hope you benefit from reminding yourself of them as much as I do, on the odd occasion that I remember to take my own advice!
Thank you very much, Liz Kessler!
NORTH OF NOWHERE by Liz Kessler is published by Orion Children’s Books on 24 January in hardback at £9.99
***COMPETITION*** Orion are running a North of Nowhere creative writing competition to celebrate young talent. The competition is open to all UK-based writers aged 8-13 who need to finish the story (which is the opening paragraph of NORTH OF NOWHERE) in 500 words or less. Entries are open from 17 January 2013 – 28 March 2013. The winner will have their story published on the Guardian Children’s Books website, will win a digital camera as well as £100 worth of Orion Children’s Books for their school library.
The competition launched on the Guardian Childrens Books website on 17 January 2013. Click here for full details.