Recent viewers of my Pinterest board – or those who have been lucky enough to receive a text with a barrage of trainers attached – may think this post is probably fashion orientated, or more importantly, about the fact that Pinterest has told me I REALLY REALLY need a pair of black Nike trainers.
Those of you throwing yourself into the new year spirit, may think this is going to be a spin on the fact that it’s time to get my bum in gear and work out (I have totally shredded once this year already. MOTIVATED).
But actually, I’m sorry to inform you, it’s not about either of those things. It’s about writing.
Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about books. It’s lovely, but when they ask me how they should go about publishing a novel of their own, I feel like a total fraud. How should I know?
That’s when my friends remind me that actually I have written a couple of books, and edited (with the help of my fabulous editors), and published them. So I should probably know a thing or two, you know, if I think about it and pull my head out of my arse.
So what advice can I offer?
I think first and foremost I should disclaim that I’m not an expert. Nor should I say that everyone has the same method of writing a story.
I think that’s what I love about this profession, the fact that it’s so varied, and everyone does it in their own way.
So here goes…
There is no right way to write a novel, you just have to find what works for you.
This is why I struggle to offer advice, because what works for me, may not work for you. I have a friend who has an amazing idea for a novel, but when I tell her my second tip, the tip which I was given and has helped me more than any other bit of advice I’ve ever been given, I can feel her, through facebook messenger, curl up in fear.
Which makes me sound like a Mrs Cranky Pants I’m afraid as I say…
Just bloody get on with it.
If you want to write a story, write it. A very wise author friend said to me just keep writing. Actually she said “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” She couldn’t be more right. So I’m totally stealing it from her.
You can’t write a novel if you don’t actually write it. So sit at your computer and go for it.
Oh don’t you dare open your mouth now, I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say what if people hate it? What if it’s rubbish? What if it’s boring.
HA! I knew it! How did I know? Because I say it every time I start writing a new chapter, paragraph, word project.
Let me explain.
In my opinion self-loathing, lack of confidence, and procrastination are natural parts of the novel writing process. I know I suffer from them, and I know a lot of very amazing writers suffer too. So if you know that’s normal, you have to just get on with it, after all, once you’ve made sure you have …
An overview, hook, and concept in your mind.
This might not happen right away, and how you deal with it is entirely up to you. Some people map it out by chapter. Some people by events. Some use scrivener, some people use postit notes, cards, or some people just brain dump.
For me, I brain dump an idea of the story overview, write a bit, sometimes a chapter sometimes more, then revisit the overview. Then I write some more. Then, like I did with the last book in The Survival Series, I got six chapters in, and realised that was actually the start of the book. Then I went back and re-wrote my overview, and completed my first draft. (All while bugging my very special friends anxiously asking if I’m making a huge mistake).
Which is a perfect time to drum into you…
The first draft of anything is shit – That’s Hemingway’s tip by the way, not mine.
You see, the first draft is going to be shit. There are many reasons for this, you don’t need to worry about them, just be aware, and don’t let it damage your already fluttering confidence…
There is always time to write.
One of the things people say to me, which probably irritates me more then it should, is everyone has a book in them. When I probe about what book they have in them, and when they’re going to write it, they often respond with ‘I don’t have time to write it.’
It’s very rare that an author doesn’t have another job. I took six months off to write my last book, and actually whilst it felt amazing, it did keep me very isolated. One of my friends, who has three book deadlines this year, has a full time job. She writes on the way to and from work on the train. She has two kids, and up until recently looked after other peoples.
Think about that. If she can do it, so can you.
And my final tip. Which isn’t really a tip but a quote I bloody love.
Write drunk; edit Sober. – Hemingway (again)
And with that, I will leave you, and go and read the rest of the entrée’s to this week’s #WhatImWriting linky. I’m sure I will impart more nonsense wisdom another time soon.