Why do you write? Probably, like most other writers, you don’t even know; you just do! You’re driven by an instinctive thing, a passion; a need to create and share your fictional world and its inhabitants, tell their stories.
And, no doubt, like most other writers, you’d love to succeed, be widely read and recognised.
So, after more years than I wish to count of being an editor, and a few of being a published author, here are my top five tips for taking that drive within and managing it to make your writing work for you.
• Understand the reader comes first. You may write what you know, but never just write for yourself. Always know who your reader is, and how you are going to satisfy her.
• Attitude is everything. Be strong, be positive; believe in yourself and your characters. But also be prepared to listen and take feedback, to learn and change. Be willing to take risks, accept challenges and to embrace the fact that writing can be a solitary business.
• Know your Inspiration. You will have times when the words won’t come, when your characters won’t play and your plot is tangled up in your head like ball of wool, and you need something to kick-start you. Work out what inspires you, feeds your imagination, conjures up new pictures in your mind. Music, walking, daydreaming, watching films or reading other books are all great sources.
• Try to write every day. Most of us don’t have the luxury of just writing when the muse takes us. We have lives and responsibilities. Make sure you schedule in your writing time and protect it ruthlessly! Be creative about where and when you do it—I wrote my first novel during commutes to work on a train! Even if it’s just for fifteen minutes and a few sentences, keep going with your characters and your storyline.
• Always take a notebook with you. Whether a digital device, or paper and pen, have something handy to capture the ideas, words and phrases that will present themselves to you as you go about your day. A TV news story, the conversations of strangers, bon mots utter by family and friends are all grist to your writing mill, and can find their way into your next novel.