Jeffrey Archer’s Writing Advice


Jeffrey Archer’s top 10 tips for writing:

1. Make time
“Decide when you’re going to write. Don’t be casual and only do it as and when it suits you. Don’t think you can write a novel after you’ve done a hard day’s work, it’s insulting to those professional novelists who spend their time doing nothing else.”

2. Be disciplined
“For example, I write from 6-8am, 10-12am, 2-4pm, 6-8pm. I keep that routine up for 40-50 days and handwrite every word. I then take a break and go back to it again a month later.”

3. Write what you know
“Don’t do vampires, wizards or ghosts because they’re in fashion. Jane Austen wrote about family life in a small village and gave us six of the greatest novels ever written.”

4. Get some fresh air
“I go for two long walks between sessions, for two reasons, physical and mental. The plot will buzz around in your mind while you are walking, continually churning over, which it can’t be while you’re actually writing.”

5. Do several drafts
“Do not imagine that the first draft of your book is the one that will be published. My latest novel, The Sins of the Father, was 14 drafts and took approximately 1000 hours.”

6. Be flexible
“If you think of something better half-way through the writing process, don’t be frightened to go back and incorporate it or even change the story completely.”

7. Seek opinions from professionals
“When you want an opinion on what you consider the finished script, seek it from a professional editor, an agent or someone you don’t know, through a third party. Do not seek an opinion from your wife, husband, partner, mistress or close friend. They will lie.”

8. Read the greats
“There is no substitute for reading great novelists, and instead of just enjoying their craft, think carefully about how they’ve achieved it? Do they spend pages on description, do they move the story on quickly, how do they make you turn the page? It’s all there in front of you if you look carefully, so at least when you try to do it, you have analysed how successful authors have managed it in the past.”

9.Stay fit
“If the body is a physical wreck – too much drinking, smoking, late nights – how can you expect the written word to be anything less than drunken, useless and tired?”

10. Don’t give up
My first novel, Not a Penny, Not a Penny Less, was turned down by 14 publishers, ended up with an advance of £3,000 and on first printing took a year to sell 3,000 copies. It is still extremely rare for a first book to be a bestseller.


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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9 Responses to Jeffrey Archer’s Writing Advice

  1. kuaychap_kia says:

    Excellent! Thanks for sharing. Very inspiring and make sense. This advice woke me up. We all like to be writers and sometime we write crap but get upset when people don’t agree. Now I know why what I write never get published haha! After reading this post I should thank and say sori to the people who don’t publish what I send then and they never say a thing; mebe they are just polite not to say anything so that they don’t hurt my feelings for saying that my writing is not good enough!

  2. Interesting revelation. I did not know that you could write books. I don’t mind publish it for you free here on my blog. Just email me the story and I’ll publish it FOC.

    In case you manage to publish your book pls let me know. I’ll buy a copy to support you. My only request is that you autograph it for me. Cheers!

  3. SG Girl says:

    I tried writing too.. Not sure if it’s good enough….

  4. Mike Loh says:

    Gintai, you spoiler lah!

    You must be the type who borrow a book from the library, read it, then write on the opening page “The butler – or whoever – did it” then return the book. Don’t reveal the ending lah!

    Ha ha just kidding!

    SG Girl, your story may be short, but it is punchy and good – do write more!

    • Hahaha! You see Dr Mike I didn’t reveal completely. Of course I knew that the husband’s lover, namely “Lewis” is a man! My intention was to let the reader find out! But then Sg Girl let the cat out of the bag lah. Langgar.
      Anyway, thanks for dropping by.

    • SG Girl says:

      Thanks Mike for the encouragement! I shall do that…

      Gintai, I shouldn’t have doubted you (thought you didn’t get the ending mah).. Now, I’m the spoiler.. Heh..

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