A Prompt From: Elizabeth Day

A Prompt From: Elizabeth Day


Get it done. Many people have brilliant ideas for books. Hardly anyone settles down to the task of actually writing those books. So much of writing is about the act of putting words on the page. It is a discipline as well as an art.

For me, this starts with giving myself a word count that I aspire to reach every single time I open up my laptop. It doesn't matter if I don't write every day. It doesn't matter if I don't have a regular ritual or routine. I fit in my writing as and when I can, and I tell myself I'm going to write 1000 words. They might be terrible! But that's ok, because the next time I open up my laptop, I can read through them and edit if necessary. There is something psychologically important about having the words there in front of you that makes it easier to keep going.

The key is to get the words down, without judgement, and then go back and re-evaluate. It's the writerly equivalent of building a house and filling it with furniture: once that bit's done, you can rearrange the rooms until you're happy with the overall result.

Also: don't be put off by the fact that you might never write like the authors you most admire. There is no-one else in this universe who has lived the same life or been shaped by the same experiences you have - that is your uniqueness. That is your voice.

- Elizabeth Day


About the Author

Elizabeth Day is an award-winning author and broadcaster. Elizabeth’s chart-topping podcast, How to Fail is a celebration of the things that haven't gone right. According to Stylist magazine, she has ‘revolutionised the way we see failure’.

Her new novel Magpie, is published in the UK in September 2020. 

Elizabeth grew up in Northern Ireland and her first job was for The Derry Journal. Since then, she has worked for The Evening Standard, The Sunday Telegraph and the Observer where she was a staff feature writer for eight years. She won a British Press Award in 2004 for Young Journalist of the Year and was Highly Commended as Feature Writer of the Year in 2013. She is a judge for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 and the co-founder of Pin Drop, a live performance short story studio.