A Letter to a Friend about Writing

November 30, 2017 at 11:55 am | Posted in Australia, Writing | 5 Comments
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I recently received an email from a friend who wants to write:


Linda, have you been writing anymore chapters on your 2nd book?  I tried what you suggested about just sitting down and start writing but perhaps I’m doing all wrong, to me it seems my sentences don’t have the flow that you read in yours and other books.


I gave her plaint some thought, and this is what I wrote back to her:


Hi Jane,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you about the writing.

To answer your question about my latest book, Thursday’s Child: I have completed it and am trying to get it published on CreateSpace. I am having trouble with it getting up there as they’ve changed the process since I did Ben’s Challenge. However, I am still trying.

Re your own writing: what kind of writing are you doing? Memoir? Fiction? Whichever it is, don’t worry if the words won’t flow. It took years before my own writing was at the standard it was for that first book. I am told that this second book is even better, & that’s due to constant improvement through actually writing a lot.

It’s that first draft that matters, no matter how good or bad it is. In my own writing, I am constantly editing. The book that comes out at the end has probably gone through 6-12 drafts! So don’t worry if you can’t get the flow immediately. You can’t make your writing better if you don’t write it first – even if it is badly.

Whatever you are writing, fiction or non-fiction, then you will find the writing will flow better if you imagine you are telling someone the story or writing a letter to them – perhaps one of your kids, or a friend – or even an imaginary person. Don’t think about the writing – think about the story and the people in the story. You can always fix it up and make it better once you have actually written it. With the computer, it is so much easier to go back and change things.

I find it hard to tell a story verbally. For me, it is the written word that lets the story flow. When I lived far from my parents, my mother used to tell me my letters were like a novel. If I get stuck, I imagine I’m writing it to a person (perhaps Mum), or I imagine I am the person in the story. It is amazing how a character (even a real one in a memoir) can come to life if you put yourself into their head and their emotions. Try it and see what happens. But don’t over-think it.

I am old-fashioned. I didn’t grow up with computers, but with paper and pencil/pen so, especially when I am writing my novels and short stories – and even poems, I do it longhand. I write it into an A4 school notebook. I can write, scribble, cross out, draw arrows to change the order, etc, as I go. It is only once I have the first draft of a chapter or a short story written in the book that I type it up, editing & improving as I go, onto the computer.

So, Jane, don’t think about the quality of the writing. Don’t try to make it good at first. Just try to get it down. I think the main things though, to release that creative flow, is to make it personal,  imagine you are telling it to someone. And don’t be impatient. The more you just write, the easier it will become to just write.

I hope these suggestions help you to get the writing juices going and flowing, Jane. Happy writing!

Best regards,



How do you get the writing to flow?






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  1. I love how you repeated your advice to just get the story down, Linda.That’s so important. First drafts are ugly little beasts and they don’t start turning into Princess Charming until much later. Something that I also do is read my work aloud, usually as part of draft 6 and 8. That helps a lot with the flow. You’re such a good friend to share your wisdom and experience. Happy Writing. 🙂

    • Many thanks for your comment Diana. You are right about reading your work aloud. So often, we don’t see a problem until we do that. As we say in my writing groups, it is actually even better to get someone to read it to you. 🙂

  2. Writing is re-writing, I’m finding as I submit my work to other writers and read aloud on my own. Diana’s advice is spot on.

    • Too right, Marian! Some of my chapters get edited so many times that I am almost sick of doing it. 🙂

  3. I remember what I was told to do: ‘Get it writ, then get it right’. 🙂

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