10 Extremely Helpful Tips for Writing

I spent last Saturday at the Mumsnet Blogfest listening to some great people talking about how & why they write....it was absolutely fascinating.

Between them they write newspaper columns, magazines, books & blogs....
They're journalists & authors.

I learnt a huge amount & wanted to share some of the best advice & tips from the day :

1. Think about what you are trying to say. Really think about it. 
And when you have finished your piece of writing, read it through to check that what you started out wanting to say is actually in there.

2. Don't always feel you have to have an opinion.
"Be a conduit not a roadblock" - Caitlin Moran
Sometimes you can simply put a thought out there, it doesn't have to be a strong opinion or even any opinion. And your writing does not always have to have a conclusion.

3. Set your own personal guidelines for what you will & won't say on your blog or in print.
Don't ever think that something won't be read - once written, it's out there.
Know what your personal boundaries are - be comfortable with them. 
Stick within them.
Don't overshare if you are not comfortable with that. 

4. "The End Of "Snark" ....as predicted by Caitlin Moran
Humour is funny, sarcasm can be entertaining, being a funny writer is very clever.
Being nasty, b*tchy, condescending & mean is not.

5. Have your own personal writing code.
If you're writing about your family, agree with them how much they are happy to have revealed  about themselves.
Maybe not so important when you have toddlers but definitely essential when you have teenagers - or a husband!

6. Believe in what you are writing. 
You can write about different topics every day on your blog, but it's your voice that keeps readers coming back...continuity, integrity & honesty are essential.

7. Dealing with trolls & abusive comments.
There will always be haters - one solution is to not allow "anonymous" comments 
(at least if someone leaves hideous or hateful comments, you can respond or, in extreme circumstances, you have evidence)
You can also do what The Bloggess (who joined us live from the US at 4am by videolink) does which is publish the commenter's name....with their comment changed to "I love you & I want to wear your skin" or publish grammatical errors and all!

8. Sometimes we all have nothing to say - call it writer's block or whatever you will.
Caitlin Moran suggested the following....
"Scrap your first idea because someone else will have thought of that.
Scrap your second idea because the clever people will have thought of it.
What you need to do is think of the third thing - and that's your idea."

9. Write with someone in mind 
Pick a person/friend/relative & write your blog as if you were talking to them.

10.  Don't Over-Edit
Sometimes you just need to re-read, press publish and walk away.

Such a lot of useful tips & information came out of the day, but the information above is what I found to be most useful.

I wrote about the Blogfest on Sunday here and would like to thank everyone who sent me the kindest, most supportive, understanding, empathetic emails, tweets & comments.
It was totally overwhelming.

As I said in my post, I have only ever experienced blogging to be a totally positive thing and the response I've had since Sunday from all corners - even from other journalists & panellists who were present Saturday - was unbelievable. 
And absolutely lovely.  

I do appreciate that journalists a) have to make a living and b) write things sometimes just to get a reaction but there is never any need for meanness & belittling other people's choices - 
particularly other women's choices.

Leslie - a fellow blogger & reader of my blog - wrote this fabulous piece of writing after she read my post on Saturday.
Thank you Leslie.


  1. I'm so glad there's only One Liz Jones in the world, and that there are oodles and oodles of women as yourself!
    Your blog has brought me much joy!

  2. Fabulous post which I think I will come back to many times, to remember what we learned on Saturday.
    I have been to several of these types of conferences and I definitely learned the most on Saturday.

  3. Great post Sim. Writing doesn't come naturally or easily for me, so these are great tips.
    Re your previous post, I think from all the lovely comments you got we all "get" LJ's spitefulness and bitterness. If you just read her recent articles re escaping from the country, she truly is a bitter, patronizing woman. If only she was half the woman you are Sweets........if only!!! xx

  4. Simone, this is so helpful and also a reminder about social media and the very few degrees of separation!

    A Special Scalamandre Giveaway

  5. Brilliant tips, Simone, thank you. I just popped across and read Leslie's post as you say a fabulous piece of writing; thank you for the introduction to a new blog ;-)
    Have a good week...hope it's calming down a little...the power of your amazing blog...congratulations!

  6. Great post - I'm really loving reading everyone's summaries of the day as I felt there was SO much to take in. Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog - so kind of you. Keep in touch! Avril x

  7. This is definitely helpful! Thank you so much for sharing! :)

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  9. I was also quite dismayed by Liz Jones' post-blogfest article and I think there is a resounding rejection of her point of view. Silly woman. Leslie's words were great and I think you were right to back off from the nationals - look at what a monster that woman has become! Nah - don't engage with them at all. Be strong and yourself. Ciao baci catinitaly

  10. Absolutely fabulous writing tips, Simone! I will definitely be mulling these over. I have been in a quiet "online" mood lately but having loads of fun planning my kitchen remodel and helping my girlfriend with hers. I also read Leslie's wonderful post - totally agree! I hope your week is wonderful, you have been in my thoughts this week! Hugs and love, sweet friend! xxoo

  11. These are great. The first tip got me through writing today's blog post. Am completely new to blogging and in desperate need of tips, so thank you!

  12. Really useful post, thanks for sharing. I particularly like the Caitlin Moran third idea is your idea. So true! Sometimes its easy to get an original idea muddled with something else you've read or seen somewhere. Great blog, do take a look at mine if you have time http://knitstitchsew.wordpress.com

  13. Thank you for redirecting me to Liz Jones column, it was the funniest piece of writing I have read in a long time! I have never heard of Liz Jones before as I don't read The Mail - the same as I didn't read Viz as a teenager - I get that it is made-up nonsense for entertaining the apathetic masses but I just don't have time to join in. I do know Caitlin Moran but only because I was bought her book for a 40th birthday present, and Tim Dowling is about as far as I get in Saturday's Guardian.
    A girl I have known since I was four makes her living 'tapping on the glass ceiling' sending differently wrapped cocoa butter and lanolin to beauty journalists, another makes terribly important adverts about chocolate breakfast cereal while hob 'knobbing' with dinosaur cricketers and a third puts on major events so the likes of those above and their clients might show off to each other about how much ill-gotten gains they have mustered over the years. Why do I have such a rich tableau of friends you cry? Ah well I worked in art and advertising for 15 years. Why so funny then, you ask of my opening sentence?
    I now revel in my children's time, my time, with friends, family and a variety of interests, I write 'art' - yes Liz, in novels, short stories and BLOGS - about perceptions, and - just in case you are reading and scoffing simultaneously - I do have a (BIG) publishing deal.
    In my experience those who feel they are tapping the glass ceiling tend to be tapping alone, nobody is watching or whooping, they have moved on, grown up, grown richer, grown out of the self aggrandisement - making money, being the bosses pet, sloshing back more champagne and gaining entry to the latest chirped-about restaurant has become irrelevant to living a full life.

    So, smile, be thankful and..
    Forgive them for they know not what they do...

  14. What an excellent roundup of writing tips from Blogfest! I thought it was a really useful day and I learned a lot but you have several here I didn't pick up.

    And I think by now we've all worked out that ol' LJ is in the minority, and we know (as she admitted quite happily) that she often writes things just to cause a stir (and boy did she), so this was just like the mean kid in school who is mean to get attention, nothing more. I'm pleased you know how loved and respect you and your blog are, because that ISN'T a fiction.


  15. What a great roundup of writers tips from Blogfest! I really enjoyed the day and got a lot of useful information from it, but I didn't catch several of these so thank you!

    And I think we all know by now that ol' LJ is in a minority and that (as she admitted herself) she often writes things just to cause a stir so she'd have more things to write about (and boy did she) and that just like a mean kid at school she is mean just to get attention. I'm pleased you know how loved and respected you and your blog are, because that ISN'T a fiction.


  16. Excellent summary of those writing tips. Thank you.


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