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Writers tips

The Best Tips for Writing from Phillip Pullman

It might not seem like Phillip Pullman’s work can translate into other areas of writing. But, this fiction author is full of surprises. Whether you’re writing content or crafting a script, take these tips for aspiring writers to heart.

A Great Story Can Find its Format

The His Dark Materials trilogy had a rough start with a movie adaption. But, it also went through screen adaptions. It is difficult for any author to envision their story going over badly. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the line.

Phillip Pullman’s successful trilogy is now going from book to small screen, which might be a better fit for such a developed world. This is a great writers tip as it can take away some of the fear that a story won’t do well. A great story will find its home if you are diligent.

Read for Joy

In a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) pep talk, Phillip Pullman noted the importance of reading for joy. He notes, “… But, if you’re not a lover of stories… don’t expect your novel to please many readers.” The importance of reading for discipline or to fine-tune the mechanics of writing is a great writers tip.

But, Phillip Pullman aims to leave tips for aspiring writers that will inspire and provoke thought. Read for joy. He reminds aspiring writers that they should carry a love of stories into their writing and engage with the characters.

Pace Your Writing

Of course, you should write when you feel like it, but the point of this great writer’s tip is that you must write when you don’t want to as well. Philip Pullman’s quote on this topic is, “If you can’t think of what to write, tough luck; write anyway. If you can think of lots more… don’t write it; it’ll be that much easier to get going next day.”

This quote leads to a few solid tips for aspiring writers. The most obvious is to write even when you’re not in the mood. You may feel uninspired when you start, but that can change quickly.

Another tip from this quote is scheduling milestones and stopping points. Pullman notes that writers should complete about 3 pages a day. But, he takes that a step further and says that if you can think of more, to stop. The concept of scheduling stopping points allows you to build up inspiration for the next day.

Finally, when he notes that it will get easier the next day, he leaves something important unsaid. Just because you’re not behind your keyboard, or you’ve put the pen down doesn’t mean you’ve stopped thinking about your story. When you leave your work, whether it’s fiction or content writing inspired, you can come back to it later with fresh ideas.

Find a Favorite Pen

When people think of writing content, a script, or a novel they usually imagine someone typing away at a coffee shop. But, Philip Pullman stands by the tried and true, pen and paper approach. He says that he starts writing with a Mont Blanc ballpoint pen, and then every chapter or so he puts it into the computer.

Philip Pullman states that the computer is the best tool for editing. But, he claims that his lucky pen has been the start of many great things for him.

Don’t Preach

Philip Pullman said, “I am a storyteller. If I wanted to send a message, I would have written a sermon.” This statement should be true for any writer. The great writer’s tip embedded in this quote is that storytelling should deliver the message through its characters. You should not simply preach your point until your readers can’t take anymore.

Marketers have known this for decades. Storytelling sells, and preaching won’t get you very far. Content writing lives in this domain, as does great fiction. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy touches on many hot topics.

Philip Pullman has many things to say on religion and science. But, his characters and the plot don’t fit the mold to push an agenda. Marketing will use the same methods of storytelling to advertise their services or products in a non-intrusive way.

Write in Silence

Philip Pullman claims up and down that no one can write when listening to music. This bit of advice is a more tangible tip for aspiring writers than other words of wisdom. Great writing tips will usually direct young writers to do whatever feels best.

Philip Pullman breaks that mold by directing writers to turn off the radio, shut down iTunes and put down the phone. On writing, he says, “You need to hear what you’re writing, and for that you need silence.” Which makes sense for anyone trying to string together more than a few words.

Writing in silence isn’t just about shutting out the noise either. Silence is an overall removal of distractions. If you’re writing for a career, you’ll want to treat writing as you would a job. That means you should dedicate some time where writing is your only focus.

Don’t Fight Your Talent

Many people might think that writing is this innate talent that you either have or don’t have. But, that’s not true according to Philip Pullman. Philip Pullman plays with the idea that writers have a variety of talents. You may have a flair for children’s literature like Pullman, or business.

Pullman’s quote on this matter is, “… If your talent is inert and sullen in the face of business or politics… but takes fire at the thought of ghosts and vampires and witches and demons then feed the flames, feed the flames.”

Write what flows best for you. Some people are talented in writing sales or market copy, while others write beautiful poetry. Take on the type of writing that fuels your flame and goes with your talent.

This area is where great writing tips begin to come together. Unlike some of Philip Pullman’s other tips on writing, you’ll see that there is fluidity here. Go with the type of writing that allows you to be yourself.

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