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Three questions

What you need to know if you're starting to write

Are you really looking?

Writing comes later. What comes first is observing the world around you. That means experiencing the world with all of your senses. Yes, it’s about mindfulness, but also about lived experience. Forget the visual bias, and try to capture the specific details, even the mundane ones you think nobody will care about.

What are you reading?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nobody would try to design a chair without sitting down. You can switch this around and say instead: I love sitting down, let’s try to make the experience better! How does that work for writing? Start with what you love to read, and try writing in the same genre, and if you haven’t found it yet, seek suggestions. Eliminate the ‘should’ and replace it with ‘love’.

Are you supporting your community?

The editor of Tin House literary magazine called this being a ‘literary citizen’. There’s karma in this. If you support others, you’ll receive support in return. It’s also about gaining tacit knowledge, keeping your ear to the ground, hearing about opportunities, calls for submissions, workshops, mentoring schemes etc. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

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