writers tips

Writers Tip #69: 5 Tips From Cory Doctorow

writers tips

Great tips for soon-to-be great writers

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tips come from Cory Doctorow, author of With a Little Help, For the Win, Makers, and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. He’s also the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Science Fiction.

Cory is a Canadian science fiction author, but also a blogger who serves as co-editor of Boing Boing and a tweeter with over 167,000 followers. That is a profile most writers I know can relate to–we write our novels, but also have active blogs and Twitter worlds. How have you (and I!) never heard of him?

Here’s what he says about writing:

  1. Write every day. Anything you do every day gets easier. If you’re insanely busy, make the amount that you write every day small (100 words? 250 words?) but do it every day.
  2. Write even when the mood isn’t right. You can’t tell if what you’re writing is good or bad while you’re writing it.
  3. Write when the book sucks and it isn’t going anywhere. Just keep writing. It doesn’t suck. Your conscience is having a panic attack because it doesn’t believe your subconscious knows what it’s doing.
  4. Stop in the middle of a sentence, leaving a rough edge for you to start from the next day — that way, you can write three or five words without being “creative” and before you know it, you’re writing.
  5. Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement.

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Questions you want answered? Leave a comment and I’ll answer it within the next thirty days.


Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, an ISTE article reviewer, an IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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11 thoughts on “Writers Tip #69: 5 Tips From Cory Doctorow

  1. Pingback: Five simple tools to find your voice

  2. Oops typo! Great tips and I am following them… with my blog. My other stuff needs as much attention and I must jump on-board with them too… Thanks Jackie, like you, I’ve never heard of the guy… God Bless his heart. 🙂

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  3. Great tips and I ma following them… with my blog. My other stuff needs as much attention and I must jump on-board with them too… Thanks Jackie, like you, I’ve never heard of the guy… God Bless his heart. 🙂

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  4. These spoke to me this week. I’m having trouble closing down my thriller. I’ve gotten some negative feedback on parts and have allowed it to discourage me, so Corey’s #2 and #3 really reached out and grabbed me. Good luck with your effort!

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  5. Great simple tips. I can relate to ALL of them! I feel I need a “writing coach” to keep me going. Think I’ll print out and post the above suggestions and let them serve me, on a daily basis, as my “coach.” Think I’ll start today, a busy day with guests coming for dinner, but surely I can grind out 100-250 words, and leave one sentence unfinished!!!

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  6. Great advice! I think many of us tend to procrastinate for various reasons – too busy, too tired, can’t focus, blanking on ideas……..the tips above though, are perfect – just do it, basically! I love the idea of simply aiming for 100 words if time is short…….we can all do that. And I really believe that “writing begets writing”, as you say. It’s easy to not do something. Then it’s gets tough to restart. Keeping up the effort, however, helps maintain some momentum.

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    • I spent most of the weekend writing book reviews because I didn’t want to work on my mss. It’s so close to done and I’m a bit discouraged of late, maybe because I know I’ll have to send it out soon and get all those rejections!

      I must get back at it. Once I start, it’s not so bad. I did 20 pages yesterday. Hmm. There’s a goal.

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