Supertrees at Gardens by the bay

Singapore Tourism Board

You know that book you’ve always wanted to write? Well, now’s the time to get started with our round-up of creative writing tips from the British Council’s literary arts platform, Writing the City.  

1.Get rid of all distractions 
In this internet-focused age you have to make time to write. Lock yourself away, turn off your phone, messenger and get off facebook. Just focus on writing for 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll find that you’ll be able to concentrate better. You might want to take a short break, load up on coffee, do some stretches for 15 minutes and then do another spurt of writing. As a drastic measure, consider disconnecting your Wi-Fi. There’s a great app called Freedom which does this for you, thus potentially saving you many hours of working time from the rabbit hole that is the internet.

2. Focus on what’s in front of you. 
A good writer can make a short walk across an empty room seem interesting. Try with what you can see now, beyond the computer screen on which you are reading these words. What’s the view out of the window? What does the floor look like? The walls? What sounds can you hear? What smells? This kind of close focus in the stuff of good fiction. Get in the habit of noticing your surroundings.

3. Become an inveterate eavesdropper
To craft realistic dialogue, listen closely to speech patterns, especially syntax and cadences, of people around you. These can be your friends, acquaintances or even people within earshot of you in public places. Get into the habit of jotting down phrases that could be useful to you in your work. Such a repository might come in useful when you next experience a bout of writer’s block. 

4. Read every day
Read, read, read – even if it’s only a bus timetable. Reading gives you language, ideas, jumping-off points. Take vocabulary from your reading and record it in your notebooks – any unusual words, odd sounding phrases, quotes you want to remember. Your notebooks then become a record of the journeys that you have taken in your reading.

5. Don’t expect instant perfection
Your characters need to be written before they’ll become fully rounded people. You don’t know who they are when you first start writing them, as you haven’t really spent enough time with them yet. Don’t expect to know them completely right away. Getting to know them over time is part of the point - uncovering them as you go along.

6. Don’t be greedy
Do not be greedy when you write. There’s often a temptation, especially when it’s going well, to write until you’re ready to drop. Many working writers know the value of leaving something for the next day. Some even deliberately finish a day’s work in the middle of a sentence. Leaving something incomplete might make you want to return to it more strongly the next day. 

 • Writing the City is a community of new, emerging and established writers who share their work, give and receive feedback and get invaluable opportunities to take their writing forward. We focus on writing inspired by city life. To join us, visit