Jeffrey Archer’s Top 10 Writing Tips


Jeffrey Archer (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician. His books, starting with Kane and Abel have been published in 97 countries and in more than 33 languages. Jeffrey Archer is a firmly established bestselling novelist, with international sales passing 330 million copies.

It should be said that Jeffrey Archer’s own story would make an international bestseller. He was educated at Oxford, where he gained an athletics blue and went on to run the 100 yards in 9.6 seconds for Great Britain in 1966. He became a promising member of parliament at 29 before losing all his money in a business deal.

Undeterred, he made a new fortune as a novelist. He also created a successful political career, running for Mayor of London, before he was convicted of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and imprisoned for four years. He carried on writing through it all and has become an even more successful author.

Here are his top 10 writing tips:

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 6-8 a.m., 10-12 a.m., 2-4 p.m., 6-8 p.m. 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 More, 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 best-seller.”

Jeffrey’s latest project was a seven-book saga called The Clifton Chronicles. Book one, Only Time Will Tell, was published in 2011. The final book in the series, This Was a Man, was published in 2016.

We hosted Jeffrey Archer as a guest speaker in 2012. For more photographs from the event, click here: A Twist In The Tale – Writers Write Lunch with Jeffrey Archer

Source for tips: HuffPost

 by Amanda Patterson

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This article has 1 comment

  1. Sakhina M Sridharan

    Many thanks for those tips, I’m 65, and feel that there is something more I need to do – to write – I’ve been drifting, but these tips, very succinctly put, address my concerns and I now feel I can start.

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