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April 14, 2010

Writer Tip: Anna Campbell

“My best advice if you’re starting out is sit down and write a whole book from page one to the end. That will teach you more than anything else, wonderful as the resources available to a writer are. Don’t listen to the siren call of a new idea when you hit the doldrums. Keep plugging on until you finish that manuscript. Then put the book under the bed for six months and write something else. Only then come back to edit the first manuscript – you’ll be amazed what writing a second manuscript has taught you. The other benefit of putting your work aside for an extended period of time is that you can see mistakes more easily once you’re not quite so close to the story.”

Visit Anna Campbell’s website at www.annacampbell.info
Purchase Anna’s upcoming release, My Reckless Surrender (June 2010)


  1. Bronwyn

    Wise words from the reigning queen! Thanks for the tip, Anna =) I have only looked at my first ever MS once… When I stopped gagging at the POV shifts, the lack of grammar and the generally terrible sentence structure, I closed the document again. One day I’m going to rewrite it from beginning to end but only after I forget all the stuff that’s already in it!
    For me, you hit the nail on the head. I’m like a fine wine, the more I age (and the more I write) the better I get…


  2. Janet

    I was afraid you would say that Anna!! ;-)) …but great advice, thanks!

  3. Vanessa Barneveld

    Sage advice, Anna! My first book was awful (both the process and the actual story), but it was a great learning experience. It showed me I really could make a go of this writing thing.

  4. N.J. Walters

    Wonderful advice.

  5. Okie B

    Thanks for the advise, Anna! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chucked something to the side because I got a new idea. lol I’ve hit a wall but I’m determined to get passed it this afternoon. I’m gonna do some gardening to air it all out, I have found that I think best while weeding :lol:

  6. Anna Campbell

    Bronwyn, snorted at the reigning queen line! You keep drinkin’, girlfriend! I think it’s actually one of the really great things about writing that you DO get better, that hard work and persistence generally DO pay off. And that you can see improvements. I haven’t looked at the first thing I wrote in years (it’s too scary to contemplate, frankly!) but I remember the buzz I got when I finished that book! And often there’s something in that first book – a character or a story or a conflict that is worth rescuing. Not in my case, believe me, but I’m sure in yours ;-)

  7. Anna Campbell

    Janet, it’s tough lurve! ;-) Thanks for checking it out!

  8. Anna Campbell

    Vanessa, I actually think plugging on through that slump once the initial excitement has wanted, whether it happens at page 10 or page 150, is part of the process. When the going gets tough, the touch gets going. And I know you’re a tough girl, my friend!

  9. Anna Campbell

    Thanks, NJ. It’s advice I had to learn the hard way, LOL!

  10. Anna Campbell

    Okie, in my experience, that wonderful new idea that beckons will hit the wall exactly the same way when ANOTHER new idea beckons. I think it’s a game our brains play – it’s partly fear, if we keep going we’ll have to turn that book into something we can send off, it’s partly lazy brains. It’s usually when the story is getting difficult that this siren new idea comes up and starts singing. It’s lying – don’t believe it! Stick with the idea you’ve got. If the new idea is that fantastic, you can do it once you’ve finished this book!

  11. Maria D.

    Very good advice

  12. Anna Campbell

    Thanks, Maria! It’s been great fun reading everyone’s tips, hasn’t it?

  13. Kaye Manro

    Very good advice, Anna! I think it’s a great way to get into the writing space. Just keep it flowing. Thanks

  14. Anna Campbell

    Kaye, I’m not sure how psychologically accurate it is, but I feel my first drafts and my editing come from different parts of the brain. Once I’m telling the story, I just pretty well go straight ahead and tell it and then go back and polish when I’ve turned on ‘editor’ brain. Thanks for swinging by!

  15. Kandy Shepherd

    Interesting comment, Anna, about the writing side of the brain and the editing side of the brain. I suspect there could be physiological fact in that!