- Always print out work before even attempting to edit it. You miss things on screen.
- Reading work out loud can be another great way of spotting errors and/or dialogue that doesn't flow well. (Recording it as well so you can play it back can also be invaluable. I use Audacity. I tend to use this technique for plays and longer fiction but there's no reason to leave it there. It could be used for short fiction too).
- Read widely across genres and between fiction and non-fiction. Ideas spark from all over the place so the more widely you read, the greater the range of potential sparks!
- Go to writing conferences to learn from the talks but, above all, to meet other writers and to get used to networking.
- Join author organisations like the Society of Authors, Alliance of Independent Authors and so on when you can. No one writer can possibly know all the ins and outs of, say, publishing contracts, which is where the advice of others can be invaluable to you personally.
- Every industry has charlatans. Publishing, sadly, isn't exempt. Never be afraid to ask questions before entering a contract. Never be afraid to sound other trusted writing friends out and do take notice of what's being said on the web. If say a publishing firm is offering "dodgy" contracts, word is bound to get out eventually on the net.
- If you go for one how-to writing book, make it Stephen King's On Writing. Fantastic book.
- Never run out of pens, notebooks, printer paper and toner cartridges.
- Back up your work repeatedly throughout a session. You never know when a power cut might hit you. I once lost an evening's work due to this. Also back up to memory sticks and the like so your work is stored on and off the computer.
- Have fun!
I'm Allison Symes and write fairytales with bite, especially novels and short stories.