She is also, not surprisingly, an advocate of writing groups:
" When I first started writing, I found joining a supportive writing group invaluable."
Malorie's recommendations for writers include finding your own voice through writing regularly - a practice endorsed in different ways by all NWP groups:
Develop your own style. Don’t copy anyone else’s. Your own voice is individual and unique so don’t be afraid to use it. Try to get into the habit of writing every day. Keeping a diary is an excellent way of doing this. Write from the heart as well as the head. Write about what makes you angry, what moves you to tears, the things about which you feel passionately. If you feel it when you write, others will feel it when they read. Don’t fake it! http://www.malorieblackman.co.uk/index.php/category/malorie/writingtips/#sthash.YgSS5mfi.dpuf
"When you sit down to write, don't think too hard about it. If I think too hard about what I'm going to write, I get really stuck. When I just sit down and do it, even if I eventually chuck away ninety-nine per cent, at least I've got something to work on. If you get to a difficult bit, just do it - you just write through it. There have been times when I've written a whole chapter and later I've deleted all of it and only kept a page, but at least I know where I want to go once I've done that."
Similarly, Donna Tartt, in writing her most recent novel, 'The Goldfinch' (2013), apparently hit a 'bad patch' and struck out 8 months' work of writing where she'd felt she'd made a 'wrong turn'.
(See Donna discussing her writing process with Kirsty Wark - including use of her writer's notebook.)
Then you discover that if you do something counter-intuitive, say, like holding it down and dragging it backwards, it builds up a momentum all of its own, and you can simply let it go and try to keep up. It might not go where you think it will, it might go round in circles for a while and then shoot off in a totally unexpected direction, but that’s what brings a smile to your face.
You don’t know what happens inside the tiny plastic red car. There’s some mechanism that stores the energy gained from going backwards and releases it in a forwards direction. Someone, somewhere, designed that mechanism. Someone else put it together. You, all you can do, is pull back, then let go, and see what happens.
(To see this writing in context go to http://battypip.wordpress.com/)
Alongside directed exploration of reading and the effects of language structures, NWP teachers provide pupils with writing notebooks in which they are free to jot down observations, try out ideas, and have go - and find their own voices. The result? Fewer 'reluctant' writers, more fluent and original writing.
Why do we worry so much? Maybe we should just pull back, let go and see what happens - and, maybe, join an NWP writing group!
NWP outreach director