English PEN has gathered a collection of top translation tips from established and award-winning translators. Every fortnight we publish advice from a different translator who’s let us in on their tips on how to improve your translation skills. Here, literary translator Ollie Brock offers his advice…
1. Get part-time work.
2. Keep reading in your native language, including at least something for pleasure.
3. Collect vocabulary; never allow yourself not to write something down. Even if it’s on an envelope or a tissue, the chances are that you will see it at least one other occasion…
4. Keep notes, not just from what you find in dictionaries but also the thesaurus: your head needs to teem with synonyms.
5. Even if you haven’t had any work commissioned, start declaring that you *are* a translator, rather than that you just ‘hope to get into’ translation at some vague point in the future. Only if people think of you this way will you get the work!
Ollie Brock is a literary translator and an editor at openDemocracy. He has worked at Granta magazine, and as a freelancer for the London Review of Books. His co-translation of Eduardo Halfon’s The Polish Boxer was an Editor’s Pick in the New York Times in 2012. He has written for the New Statesman and TIME, and reviews regularly in the TLS. He was also a Translator-in-Residence at the Free Word Centre in 2012-13.