Nov 23


Craig Lock

Craig Lock

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THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE Anyone with ... literary skills can write, but not many people can write really well. Yet we all have the ... to use this means of ... our creative energy.



Anyone with reasonable literary skills can write, WHAT DO WE NEED TO GET STARTED IN Articles but not
many people can write really well. Yet we all have the
opportunity to use this means of expressing our
creative energy. You don't need much: no money -
only time and IMAGINATION. To start writing, all you
need is a place, a pen, paper and an idea (which
comes through the amazing power of the human

Firstly, work habits: Organise yourself (my big difficulty
in all areas of life!). Decide WHERE you want to
write. Which room will enable you to concentrate
and lift your spirits the most? I find writing outdoors
enables me to be most relaxed and therefore at my
most creative.


Allocate a few hours a day when you won't be
disturbed. Then stick to it with total COMMITMENT
(remember the qualities of a writer from lesson one?).
What other tools are there to help you?
The local library, dictionaries, like a Thesaurus. What's
that? And especially, a dictionary of quotations. Can you
start a sentence with an "and"? All of these resources
are extremely helpful to a writer. I find the local library
especially helpful. Get to know your way around, to
find out where things are. Using this resource saves a
great deal of time and frustration...and most of all, money -
not having to buy books ("El cheaposkate", like me). I
am constantly using the facilities of the excellent HB
Williams Memorial Library here in Gisborne.

What other resources are easily available?
Dictionaries: Such as the Oxford Dictionaries of
Quotations. They'll always come in handy when you're
looking for a good quote. Incidentally, good grammar
and punctuation, together with presentation, is very
important in getting published. I cover more on this
subject in subsequent lessons. As my English teacher
at school said, READ, READ, READ.
It develops vocabulary (another nice long word).

Typewriter or Word Processor?

Once you've got this clear in your mind, ie. place, time,
tools (like pen and paper), later comes the decisions
about whether to buy a typewriter, word processor or
Word processors and computers make life so much easier
for writers: you can quickly rewrite by moving words around
or simply cutting them out altogether. They even have a
spell check for those not too confident in this area.
All writers continually revise their work many times to make
the words flow better (don't say 'continually' and 'many
times' - they mean the same thing!).

Do you need one?

If you want to be published, no editor will consider
handwritten work, so you will need to make that decision
someday. If you want to write purely for your own
pleasure, no "hassle"! My simple advice is to take your
time regarding purchasing decisions. Don't rush out and
buy now, but wait and see how your writing develops.
Perhaps you have an old typewriter in the attic to start
on, or you may be able to borrow one from a friend in
the meantime ("cheapskate"). This advice is based on
what I did. Start off with a typewriter,
because all your work should be typed - unless you're
writing purely for yourself. Later you can progress to a
word processor,
if you really get caught up in the writing 'bug'. I bought
my word processor just before I left work after being
made redundant as a Life Assurance Manager. It was
the best investment I have ever made in my life! Then
I progressed to learning computers. This was no easy
task for me, but now working every day with
one, I've become quite good (even if I say so myself!).
However, I still use my word processer to work in the
hot sun outside.
Hedonistic sun freak!

What other tips are there?...

* Keep a work diary of your projects underway -
keeps one on track.

* Also keep a record of your writing expenses - for the tax
man. Any expenditure you incur in producing income
from your writing is usually deductible from your taxable
income. I'm sounding like an accountant now - sorry!
More on this subject in a later lesson.

* Have a clippings file of things that interest you . . .
because those are the things you are likely to write
about some day in the future. I keep them on about ten
different subjects, from stress to the South
African economy (which leads to more stress!).

* Handy! Keep a note book handy by your bed. We
often get our most creative ideas whilst sleeping when
the mind is relaxed. I used to wake up with a great
idea in the middle of the night. EUREKA! ... but by
morning it was forgotten. You can even use a small
tape recorder. I have resorted to taking my
dictaphone. I get lots of funny looks, but at least it
stops me having to turn back before I forget my
inspirational thought for the day.


Now we have all the tools, time to get started. I believe
the best training for new writers is to write as often and
as much as you can. So write about ANYTHING that
tickles your fancy.It doesn't matter, as long as you

It is practice and experience (and life experiences)
that counts. As the tourist in New York asked : "How
do I get to Carnegie Hall?" and the cabbie replied:
"Practice, mate (or the Yankee equivalent of this
New Zealand and Australian expression), practice,

When I look at my first manuscripts, I can clearly see
how much my writing has improved in the last six years.
At least I think so!

What else can you write about?
(Can I end a sentence with a "preppie"?)
* Write letters. This is becoming a forgotten art.
* You could also keep a daily diary, or journal. Write
about your thoughts, your feelings, your daily
experiences, your hopes your fears, your dreams. Doing
this regularly hones your writing skills.

* You can take courses at universities, colleges,
polytechnics, or this one. As well as the course content,
I think that writing courses have a definite social
function; because they keep you in touch with other
like-minded people... and always remember writing is
such a solitary occupation.

Hope I'm still a little bit sane then, after all these years
writing in solitary 'confinement'!

Happy writing and stay sane

Craig Lock