Writing Tips From Ian McEwan

Writing Tips From Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is undoubtedly one of the best-known contemporary English writers. In 2008, he was featured on The Times list of “The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945”. Another daily newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, ranked him as number 19 in their list of “100 Most Powerful People in British Culture”. With his bibliography ranging from novels, short story collections, children’s fiction, plays, screenplays and more, you’d most definitely want to take writing tips from Ian McEwan.

Ian McEwan’s View on Writing Tips

Although he’s been an influence to many young authors, he’s not too keen on giving writing tips because he thinks that everyone should find their own way. As McEwan puts it himself:

“I often think that I don’t really have any advice to give at all, and that everyone should find their own way, but that never really satisfies anyone.”

Ian McEwan’s Writing Tips

Although not fond of giving writing tips, McEwan has some tips for aspiring authors that are struggling to stay disciplined and consistent.

Nothing Should Stop You

If you want to be a writer, then nothing should stop you to achieve this goal. McEwan advice is not to go around saying “I want to be a writer”, but to go around saying “I am a writer” instead. All you need for this is a pencil and a block of paper.

Concentrate on the Short Story

“Do not waste the next five years of your life writing an 800-page block of a novel that might well be a failure. Put your toe in the water gently”. According to McEwan, the short is a difficult form to master, but, at the same time, it is a wonderful laboratory because you can play with it. All it takes for a good or a bad short story is anywhere from one to six weeks, and you’ll not have wasted several years of your life.

Write a Novella

You should find the short story that you have written but that feels like there’s something incomplete about it. You should develop it into a 140-page novel. Again, it could take you somewhere between a year or even less. You might even get it all down in one delirious month.

Keep a Journal

His final advice to the aspiring authors is to dedicate themselves to keeping a journal.

“When I look into my own journals, what fascinates me most about what was going on in my life 30 years ago are the things that we would consider the most mundane. What was I reading, who was I talking to, what were the main subjects of conversation.”

It is a good thing to keep track of such banalities because it is after many years that they begin to shine. Rewrite it once a week to about 500 words and you could end up with 25,000 words a year.

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