Welcome to another edition of the Draft Mode newsletter, coming to your inbox from a most sweltering writing shed here in sunny Sheffield.
I'm in the middle of some work changes, holiday preparation and all-round how-is-it-July busyness at the moment. Whenever possible, I'm writing tiny stories and making changes to my website ready for some exciting content-based items coming your way soon.
Last week I stumbled across some photos of me reading one of my very old tiny stories at the Hay Festival in 2004. I thought I'd share one of the photos with you here so you could marvel at my flared jeans and incredible decision to perform barefoot. The folly of youth!
The other picture is my accommodation for the weekend, an apt metaphor for my literary career to come.
Enjoy the links below. Some really good stuff this week.
Links of the week
Every issue I collect and share the best advice, apps and other shenanigans that I find on my internet travels. Find something useful? Subscribe for free.
My excellent book club just read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I'd not read anything of hers before, so I had a look to see if I could find some clips of her talking about the writing process.
In this video, she's sharing the process of writing and assembling her essay collection, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Two things struck me. First, the self-doubt that all writers seem to go through. And second, that putting the essays in the right order helped her see them better as a whole.
May I also award Ann Patchett 1000 points for a truly tremendous author photo.
Oh, this is really good from author, David Yoon. It starts out with this pretty simple notion:
I’m able to write a novel because I have grit. Grit is not a personality trait or a special skill. It’s not even all that special. Anyone can have grit because grit is simply a set of good habits.
Yoon then goes on to give us a list of practical writing habits that all seem like excellent ideas. Sure, you might not be able to do all of them (I can't), but there is plenty here if you are looking to shake your writing routine up a little.
This book list is from the folks at Tor and before you keep scrolling because you just know which titles to expect, hold your horses for a second. Because I thought the same, clicked through anyway and found several books on writing that I had never heard of before, and that also happen to sound great.
This a fairly well-trodden question by now, but this post over on The Darling Axe's blog is full of wisdom and good writing advice. And this is the crux of it:
Writing is a craft. The craft has rules. The rules have exceptions. All of these things can be taught, and it’s essential to learn them if you want to write well.
For my own part, having taken an MA Writing course, I'm pretty sure that you can learn creative writing. It doesn't mean you'll be any good at it. But you can definitely find out about good sentence structure, how stories work and all the other ins and out of writing well.
That said, the most useful thing my MA course gave me was community. You learn so much just by being and working with other writers, reviewing each others work and generally being in a creative environment.
...if you only have one day, just bring one project. Only one. Set an achievable goal for yourself. Focus on that one goal.
When you don't have much time and then all of a sudden you have lots, it becomes very easy to do nothing. It's overwhelming. So picking out one thing to work on or achieve is a good way to approach things.
If you haven't already seen one of Liz and Mollie's illustrations, they are very simple and very good. In this interview, they talk about their process of writing books together. It's really detailed and even covers what apps and tools they use for collaborating, researching and putting the whole thing together.
Me and the kids will sometimes make little zines for each other. I probably pinched the idea from Austin Kleon, who has been making and sharing them on Instagram for the last few years. This book is a bit like the zine bible. It gives you a bit of history, but more excitingly for us, lots of practical tips and techniques for making zines of our own. Or your own, if you fancy giving it a go!
Tweets of the week
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