To be fair, this may end up being a list of things I need to write and be happy, but I am sure there are a few in here that count as universal and suitable for all!
The past couple of weeks have been a complete whirlwind and I am still – if I am totally honest – on cloud nine and not really sure it has all sunk in (if you are new, welcome and please see previous blog post to get up to speed!). The mega, sunshiny moments have come from the wonderful people in my life; all of whom have gone out of their way to spoil me and celebrate with me…culminating in a fabulous and very surprise party yesterday afternoon (there were even cakes with my book’s name on – EPIC!)
I do have a point and I am getting to it I promise! All this warm and fuzzy feeling time has led me to think about what I need to be a cheerful writer and get the best from myself and so I thought I may write it all down. If there is one thing that I have found to be true, it is that at every stage there is someone ahead of you to learn from and behind you that might just be having a crappy day and need a reminder of why it is all worth it in the first place. Before you think it (…who does she think she is? etc.) I know full well I am at the very beginning of all this author malarkey and therefore can offer very limited advice to other writers, but..I have sat at home in weeks and months gone by and huffed and puffed at the absence of a publisher in my life. In those moments I found the news of other author’s who were slightly ahead very motivating and uplifting so..let’s all share the love a little and remind each other that we do this a) because we are mad creative types, b) the good stuff really does come to those who wait (and keep writing) c) what else would we do with all the hours we use to write anyway?!!
Ok…so things that help make happy writers…
Sounds obvious..but, you need to find people you can trust to read and critique what you have written. I was very lucky to have some amazing people to review my work as it went along, but I knew that the best thing to do would have been to get someone completely impartial to read it. You need that because I can tell you know with hindsight, that is when it starts to feel real. My agent/publisher ended up being the first person to read my work in full (I had sent various queries and received rejections), which was a gamble. Luckily it paid off…but I would advise anyone who wants this like I want it to be braver than me. Believe in what you have written enough to step out of your comfort zone; even if it isn’t for them, they can help you make it better.
The second part of this point is that you need to be a reader too. Obvious it seems, but reading is the key to making your writing better. Knowing your genre, the fans of books you are hoping to engage – that is what helps make yours better. I am not saying be like those other authors, just learn things about your own style. I have been reading like a crazy person for most of my life but when I realised what I loved most as reader, it really shaped how I decided to write and I again, I mean that I forged my own style…without pinching that of others!
2) Find the escape
This is a funny one…because for many, including me, writing is an escape. That said, there are times when I have to break away so my creativity can come back to me a bit. The escape within an escape is the way to disengage from your writer brain and separate yourself for a little while. In my case I have a husband and toddler who fill this time wonderfully! I find that sometimes I need to do something else other than write in my free time…that may just be me, but I always write best when I have allowed myself a few hours off to think and sit back down ready to go!
3) Write everything down
I have an unhealthy obsession with notebooks so this also may just be me! Since I got serious about writing, I have never not had a notebook on me somewhere (or at the very least a few scraps of paper and a pen that writes nicely!) There is always time for a new idea to pop into your head or a sudden plot twist that takes even you by surprise…so have something there to write it down! There is nothing worse than forgetting that great idea because sometimes they don’t come back. I know, in this technology-saturated world we can all write things on our phones (which I have been known to do) but there is something a little special about a new idea in a notebook!
This is VERY important! I like to reward myself (perhaps a little too much) when I have completed a major milestone. A lot of hard work and brain power goes into writing, so you are allowed a treat! For me maybe it is a glass of wine or some chocolate, but find something and enjoy…in moderation! Put it this way…if you spent three plus years working on a day-job type project, you would expect a little reward…well your writing is a major deal and you rock just for sitting down every day to make it better.
5) Do it your way
This is the final point and I think the most important to me when I am writing. There is so much out there to consume about writing. How many words you manuscript MUST have. How many characters you NEED. The perspective has to be FIRST or THIRD….BLAH. None of the above is true. Of course there are such things as the recognised ‘norm’, but there are always exceptions and your book is yours and you therefore, know how to execute it. That isn’t to say there won’t be people who can help make it stronger (see point 1) but, you wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t think you had a good idea (I hope!)
Wow….that was a long one! I will leave it there. In other news, for any YA fans out there – I have just finished Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake and loved it.
Thank you for reading!
PS – More news on Embers soon (hoping for a cover reveal and release date in next few weeks!)