A post by Julian Bass, Lecturer in Software Engineering at the University of Salford

If you want to be a better, faster writer, you should treat your writing as a lean manufacturing process. “Lean” is an engineering technique for making manufacturing less wasteful and has been used in industrial production for decades. Today it has spread to sectors from software development to customer services. But I’ve found the principles of lean can even help improve the practice of writing, whether you’re producing a report or a novel.

Lean was developed from Japanese manufacturing ideas in the 1980s and 1990s. It involves applying five principles to minimise waste and increase productivity: flow, value, waste, pull and perfection. The key goals in lean manufacturing are to learn and continually improve. For writing, we have to first start with a finished piece of work in order to get feedback. Then we can start to apply the circular lean process and principles.

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A guest post by Yi Shun Lain

The other day my husband fixed our bathroom sink with a video on YouTube, and I read a tutorial on how to build a wall planter.

So I was kind of surprised when I saw someone in an online writer’s community I’m in ask whether or not we thought her MFA program should be teaching her about the business of publishing. I mean, if I can learn rudimentary Spanish from an app, surely this person, who’s paying thousands of dollars to learn how to have a career in the written arts, should expect to learn how to . . . well, have a career.

I guess a little background is due: I’m a writing coach and editor. I’m also a novelist, and I edit nonfiction at a literary magazine. I cut my teeth in the consumer magazine world, and write marketing copy and teach workshops. In short, I make my living with words. I have an MFA myself, from an institution I chose specifically because its faculty comprised working writers, and a certificate in publishing from what is now the Columbia Publishing Course (when I graduated, it was still the Radcliffe Publishing Course). I got much of my writing-business acumen on the job, and when the time came to write and query my novel, I learned almost everything from friends who were literary agents, and, eventually, more timely information from my MFA program.

I’ve noticed a few things that crop up again and again when folks talk about writing and what place business has in it, and where and how you should learn these things. I’ll address them from my point of view below. And I invite you to partake in a conversation about them in the comments. Here we go:

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Emily Gould

Emily Gould is a novelist, essayist and bookseller. Based in New York City, she is the co-owner of independent e-bookstore Emily Books and a former co-editor at Gawker.com.

Emily has launched a new online, self-paced Skillshare class that features a 10-day creative writing challenge aimed at helping you unlock your creativity and kickstart a daily writing habit.

Enrolment is the class is FREE for a limited time via this link. The offer expires at 11.59pm on Tuesday 12 April, American Eastern Standard Time.

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A post by Naomi Wood, Goldsmiths, University of London

Writing is something of a lawless place. Lawless, because there’s no clear indication that your effort will bring success; or that an answer will ever emerge from the mud; or that the most insane, most unpromising idea won’t reward you eventually.

Writing, especially in the drafting stage, can get very swampy indeed. In the first drafts I write to see what’s going to happen. I don’t know anything until I’ve begun to probe the life of the character. Is there someone at the door? A piece of unexpected news in the post? Weevils in the flour which means the cake is ruined?

I find first drafts scary and hard to do. I will do lots of other things instead of writing this draft. Scrubbing mould from the bathroom’s grouting. My laundry. My marking. Even my tax return, with its eminently calculable results …

What I do to get it done is lie to myself. I tell myself I’m writing short-stories, not a novel. If I take baby-steps I know I can get there, but if I knew it was a marathon, I’d never begin.

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Joanne-Harris-Ten-Tips-Writing

Joanne Harris started her working life as a teacher, writing three novels during her fifteen years in the classroom. This included the international bestseller Chocolat (1999), the success of which made Harris a member of the exclusive Millionaire Authors’ Club, a list of UK authors whose books have sold more than one million copies. Since becoming a full-time writer Harris has written a further twenty books including two cookbooks and a Dr Who novella.

Last month Harris, a witty and wise Tweeter, shared the following tips for writers using the hashtag #TenWaysToKickstartYourWriting.

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