Tag Archives: novella

So you want to be a writer?

Work in progress
Work in progress

In a room full of people I would say that around eighty per cent have at least one book in them. And secretly, many of them have the desire to write it.

But should they?

Each of us has a unique fingerprint and this means that we are essentially one of a kind. So telling a story should be different for everyone. But this doesn’t ring true if you look at what is on offer out in the world of literature. Many people write what they think the industry wants, which comes out as clichéd, risk averse and often boring.

Having a good idea for a novel or an ‘interesting life’ for a memoir, does not make good writing, and even for a seasoned writer, the story that’s in your head doesn’t always translate onto the page as you would hope.

The main reason for this is that people think that they can bang out a story and – hey presto! – there’s a best seller. If only I had a dollar for every time someone came to me saying, ‘This is going to be a best seller’. If anyone could predict such a thing, we’d all be doing it.

I’m a huge advocate for new and emerging writers. And we do a lot of work with people through workshops and mentoring to help them improve their work. But at the heart of great writing is hard work. This is where the wanna-be writer will fall away – once they realise how much sweat and tears goes into it.

So what do you need to be a writer? Yes, there is the need for some talent but there are many out there who write great books on little talent because they put the work in. You need resilience, tenacity and an open mind because to make it in the writing world you will come up against rejection and naysayers over and over again. It will feel like ground hog day. You’ll also need to work and rework your writing until you are so sick of the sight of it that you may want to torch the whole damn lot.

If you asked a writer if they’d do all that work again on a novel they just brought out they may look at you like a crazy person but it’s a bit like childbirth. Once you have that baby in your arms, you forget all the pain and discomfort that went into making it. And then you go back and do it again.

So you want to be a writer? Be prepared to work hard. Don’t give up. And have that vision of yourself holding the baby in your arms.

Blaise, the book chick

Fear and Writing

Even the most seasoned writer can sit in front of a blank page paralysed by fear.

Can I match the success of my last book?

Who wants to read what I have to say?

I’m not that good a writer, my spelling and grammar are atrocious (that’s what editors are for).

Rational or not, this fear is real and can stop people from creating a story that they need to get out. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a novel or a self-help book. Most don’t recognise the fear because it presents itself as excuses.

I don’t have time.

It’s a waste of my energy.

I don’t have the money.

It’s not a real occupation and is indulgent.

Then procrastination sets in.

The dishes need to be done.

Wow, look at my backyard, I’ll go mow the lawn.

I’ll just have a quick look at Facebook or Twitter, then get back to it.

I have writer’s block.

I don’t believe that writer’s block is a real thing. It’s an excuse because the writer is blocking him/herself because of these unacknowledged fears. You know how to fix that? Sit down and write!

The problem is that the writer wants to write the perfect thing straight away. They don’t want to have to write it then go over it again to make it good. Perfection is rare if not impossible with a first draft, no matter how much experience you have. And because perfection takes a lot of work, the excuses edge in again.

Fear is what stops so many people from writing anything at all, meaning that only a very small percentage of people who say they want to write a book actually do so. If you want to be in that small percentage it takes work. Here’s what you have to do:

  • Avoid procrastination
  • Don’t just talk about writing, actually do it.
  • Hang out with other writers
  • Be persistent
  • Don’t let the little voice in your head get loud
  • Have writing goals
  • Keep writing

seth-on-creative-fearFear is a normal human condition needed for survival. But writing a good or bad book isn’t going to affect our survival in the long-term. What’s the worst that can happen? You could write an average book with average acclaim. Or you could write a great book that is successful. Only the work you put in will determine the success. Even writing a bad book that no one really reads is not the end of the world (literally) but at least you’ve given it your best shot!