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SOME FUCKING WRITING TIPS

This is the first blog I’ve written since writing blogs for the respectable charity Booktrust. Booktrust gave me no rules for writing blogs, except that they said I couldn’t swear. So after six months of non-swearing I have been bursting to fucking swear. I really fucking have. I just need to get it out of my system.

Anyway, thought I’d start as predictably as ever, and give some fucking writing tips. Here they fucking are:

1. Don’t think that being published will make you happy. It will for four weeks, if you are lucky. Then it’s the same old fucking shit.

2. Hemingway was fucking wrong. You shouldn’t write drunk. (See my third novel for details.)

3. Hemingway was also right. ‘The first draft of everything is shit.’

4. Never ask a publisher or agent what they are looking for. The best ones, if they are honest, don’t have a fucking clue, because the best books are the ones that seemingly come from nowhere.

5. In five years time the semi-colon is going to be nothing more than a fucking wink.

6. In five years time every fucking person on Twitter will be a writer.

7. Ignore the fucking snobs.  Write that space zombie sex opera. Just give it some fucking soul.

8. If it’s not worth fucking reading, it’s not worth fucking writing. If it doesn’t make people laugh or cry or blow their fucking minds then why bother?

9. Don’t be the next Stephen King or the next Zadie Smith or the next Neil Gaiman or the next Jonathan Safran fucking Foer. Be the next fucking you.

10. Stories are fucking easy. PLOT OF EVERY BOOK EVER: Someone is looking for something. COMMERCIAL VERSION: They find it. LITERARY VERSION: They don’t find it. (That’s fucking it.)

11. No-one knows anything. Especially fucking me. Except:

12. Don’t kill off the fucking dog.

13. Oh, yeah, and lastly: write whatever you fucking want.

(Please buy my fucking book.)

91 Comments

  1. too fucking funny – love this fucking post! And I’ll check out your fucking book… (wow, that felt good)

  2. I agree with all of this, especially number one and eight and… holy fucking trousers, I killed off the dog. Honestly, in my novel, I killed off the dog. The dog, it dies.

    *late spoiler alert*

  3. Lesley Martin says:

    Yay for number 12. Every time a dog is introduced in a book I begin waiting for it to be killed off. I have still not quite forgiven Patrick Ness for Manchee. Thank you for allowing Newton to flourish.

    • OH MY FUCKING GOD. Manchee. I lost it at that part, almost threw the book across the room, and had to go take a walk because that pissed me off so much. To this day I have never bothered to pick up the second (much less the third) book.

  4. Number 12, fucking right, yeah.

    *Looks over shoulder to see if anyone heard*

  5. Already fucking bought it, I’m half the fucking way through. Its awfully good actually ;-)

  6. There’s nothing wrong in writing while drunk. The important thing is not to press “Send” afterwards; just save it, read it the following morning and weep.

    ;-)

  7. Love the fucking shit out of this article. Bloody well done!

  8. ‘Don’t kill off the fucking dog.’ So that’s why Little Monsters didn’t win the Booker. And there I was thinking it just didn’t get enough media attention. Sometimes it’s better to know the truth, however much it hurts.

    No 1. Right.

  9. Thanks a fucking bunch you glorious cunt, this has brightened my day and been of real fucking value. Thumbs all the way fucking up.

  10. Note to self – stop killing off the f***ing dogs!

  11. Excellent fucking blog – straight to the point and with swearing. Perfect.

  12. Fucking brilliant.

  13. Michelle Rattigan says:

    Fucking hilarious . It’s funny because it’s true.

  14. Nigel Watson says:

    This is really jolly effing good

  15. Nigel Watson says:

    sorry, I mean j**** fucking good!

  16. Best fucking advice for writers I’ve read in a while. I snort-laughed over the Twitter one. Truth, that.

  17. You, sir, are a fucking star!

    Great advice.

  18. Jackie P. says:

    Fuckin-A right on all 13 (which I’ll be telling my creative writers about next academic year)!

    Bought and read the book (see above parenthetical).

  19. John Onwards says:

    Matt,
    Fuck off.
    John

  20. philip conradie says:

    I don’t fucking think so.

  21. Michael Fucking Colello says:

    Fucking great advice. I fucking appreciate it.

  22. Wow. I think I love you.

  23. This is fucking brilliant!

  24. But now I’m really curious. Why do we kill off our dogs? What possesses us?

  25. Too many writers have the dog barking in the middle of the night. No barking! Then, perhaps, the dog will live.

    Really funny stuff here. Especially number 10.

  26. Garry Stanton says:

    All fucking true. You cunt.

  27. This was fucking great. Thanks.

  28. Dude, you have just made my FUCKING day!

  29. You are Fucking Brilliant.

  30. In fairness to Hemingway – your No. 2 tip – he added ‘Edit sober’. Not sure if he meant a pearl of wisdom for us all, or a note to himself for the morning!

  31. You could boil it all down to number 8. Sound advice. There’s a fair bit of dog killing in Irvine Welsh.

  32. Wicked smile ;) Semi-colon wink be damned, that was fucking awesome. (Hugs) <–Yep I'm a hugger. Indigo

  33. I freaking love this. Couldn’t have said it better in a hundred years. Good on you.

  34. thank you for your fucking honesty

  35. Great fucking writing tips,”Be the next fucken you.”

  36. I don’t know why but this reminded me of Evidently Chickentown – “the fucking pubs are fucking dull, the fucking clubs are fucking full, of fucking girls and fucking guys, with fucking murder in their eyes” :)

  37. I can say nothing… except that with this blog post I may have just become your number one fan.

  38. John van den Berg says:

    Brilliant! Do cats qualify? Glad I didn’t kill it!

  39. Excellent creative writing workshop material. You gave me the best belly laugh I’ve had in ages… Respect for a great piece!

  40. 14. Expletives lose their power after a while. Only use them when you really fucking need them

    Enjoyed this. It’s been a long time since I clung to a romantic view of writing. I would’ve been about thirteen and everything I wrote was a work of genius. Glad I started young and got that out of the road.

  41. David Kilburn says:

    ” . . . Be the next fucking you.” maybe, but try being the first to being with

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  43. Just finished your book, it was f****** awesome. (It’s no good, I can’t do proper swearing!)

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  45. Ha! Perfect writing advice! I am happy to say, however, that I actually did not kill off the dog in my last novel. He was the survivor lol. Brilliant! I’m glad I happened upon your site.

  46. I can’t fucking wait to read your new book.

  47. Nicholas Davis says:

    Well played my friend … well played.

  48. This is some inspiring advice. I’m buying your book. (I was going to anyway, but now I’m going to buy it SO HARD.

  49. You just saved the fucking dog!! I kid you not. The neighbors have gone out and left the fucking thing barking… er yapping. I was thinking, as one does, “one more blog then I’m going to tear myself away from my computer and go over there with a fucking mouse trap or something!” and then you said that. “Don’t kill off the fucking dog.” And I got to wondering if that applied to real life. So I found some earplugs. Now that I can’t hear a thing, I’m off to buy your fucking book for a nice quiet read.

  50. Jean Carrieres says:

    I dunno about not killing the dog. Every disaster movie does that. Same thing with black men and horror flicks. Dogs and black men almost never die. I swear, if I ever find myself in such a situation, I’m fuckin’ strapping dogs and black men to myself, and I’ll be fuckin’ invulnerable!

    JC

  51. Fucking A right, don’t kill off the fucking dog. Especially if it’s a fucking Basset hound. I fucking burned my copy of “The (fucking) Imperfectionists.” Fuck.

  52. Number 12 …

    Don’t kill the fucking chicken either … seriously, who knew??

  53. Yeah. Right. Snappy advice makes for a good blog post; I don’t know how to use a semi-colon correctly but nor does anyone else, it seems, so I use them to appear cleverer ;-) Seriously, though, nice post. It’s encouragement that most writers need and this blog was encouraging. My girlfriend hates dogs, so she may kill a few off in her writing, but I’m an animal lover so they’re safe in mine. Probably.

  54. Great post, wish I could link it, but the language…

  55. Love this!! Thank you for making me grin! And hell yes to not killin the fucking dog!!!

  56. J M Brown says:

    Gee, in my first book, killing the dog is the fucking first thing I do.

  57. I’ve never fucking heard of you before this, so obviously you weren’t swearing nearly enough until now.

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  60. I don’t curse but when I do, I get drunk and kill my dog. Then I write about it.

  61. I’m very fucking sorry I cannot buy your book as I have no fucking job or any fucking money. But when I do… I have no doubt it’ll be a great fucking read! xoxoxo no but really

  62. Jane Dewar says:

    Funny funny fucking funny

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  64. 8. If it’s not worth fucking reading, it’s not worth fucking writing.

    You are fucking Awesome, dude! Love love love this.

  65. Shad Schroeder says:

    Didn’t Chekhov write that if you put a dog in the first act, you have to kill it?

    Or was it Sulu?

  66. Thank you thank you for letting the dog live!

    And while you’re blogging, please can you tell people to stop saying “I kid you not” Please.

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  68. I’ve never fucking commented on a fucking blog before but since I’m on the cusp of becoming a fucking blogger and have been asking myself “how the fuck do I start writing?” I couldn’t help my fucking self and just had to comment. This is fucking hilarious. Thank you. I had no idea where to start writing and now, after laughing my heart out, I feel better and at least have a small fucking clue. Ah that felt good.

  69. Fucking brilliant advice. Thanks!

  70. I fucking love this.

  71. But what about “Ol Yeller?”

  72. Best fucking advice ever.

  73. I love your post! Except… except… I killed the dog too :( I didn’t want to, and I cried a lot (and actually had to have psychological and moral support to get the scene written. Essentially “You’re not an evil person for writing it. Your evil character is at fault. Not you. Bad things happen. Write the scene.”)

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  75. No. 6 is already pretty fucking accurate. Fuck self-publishing or traditional, the future of literature would appear to be 140 fucking measly little characters. (Hope my Granny’s not reading this).

  76. You’re my new pretend best friend.

  77. Yes, but can you get by with killing the fucking monkey?

  78. Maybe I should have been more fucking complimentary?

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  80. I would have no fucking story if the fucking dog didn’t die. From the comments here, looks like that makes me THE NEXT fucking wanker.

  81. This is fucking amazing. But you forgot one: Rules are meant to be fucking broken. Richard Matheson broke the dog rule, and he did the right fucking thing even though I screamed at the page.

  82. So fucking kewl, that allowing a dissident voice is too much for you? Sperkewl!

  83. Yeah! Don’t fucking kill the dog! Kill the fucking cat from hell!

  84. L.M.F.A.O! >>>>This: 8. If it’s not worth fucking reading, it’s not worth fucking writing. If it doesn’t make people laugh or cry or blow their fucking minds then why bother?

    ABSO-FUCKIN-LUTELY!

    Well done.

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  86. pitboll says:

    very nice fuking advice,

  87. Jenny Rees says:

    You’ve made my day. Loved the comments, so f******g true. I’m with Luciferadi.

  88. Natalie Lee says:

    Fucking awesome – and yeah, I’m gonna dig out that space fucking zombie opera thing

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