Advice – better late than never.

Yes – that’s me aged 4! All together now – ahhhhhhh

In the photo above I was all dressed up and ready to go exploring the inner depths of an ancient dusty tomb filled with lolloping flesh crazed zombies and crumbly curse ridden mummies. I was all set to explore the…cupboard under the stairs! OK not as exciting as I built it up to be, but hey it was still pretty dusty down there! So when I look at this photo of myself I tend to start to get a bit maudlin and wonder what my life would have been like if I’d known then, what I know now.

No matter how old you are I hope the following lessons I’ve learnt and advice I’ve gleaned can help you on your way and perhaps save you the most valuable thing we all own…time.

 IMAGINATION

I wrote a line in my story ‘Personal Demons’ included in Static Movements’ Carnival anthology:

‘Imagination can be a blessing and a curse’.

This for most writers should ring true. Having a vivid imagination makes writing fun, gives you the foundations to a great story line and can even draw others to you; but it can also make you a worrier, make you a dreamer and above all leaves reality as monotone mundane drudgery – nothing is as good as you imagine it will be. The trick to this is to pour all your imagination into your writing. Stop imagining the date you’ll be having with your cute neighbour – just go out with them. Stop putting yourself into your dream world – I know its great escapism, but in will turn your reality into a very ordinary and dull place. Imagine your stories, and get on with your life.

 YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE

This is the best advice I’ve ever been given. In trying to please everyone you can end up pleasing no one. The best thing to do is please yourself (no rudeness intended!) You might write a story that is rejected by one publisher only to be merrily accepted by another. You can’t be all things to all people; the only thing you can do is make sure you are happy in what you do in life, what you write and how you write it. Never be told what to do or be forced into a cookie cutter version of yourself. Life’s far too short and time is running out. When it comes to writing the only thing you have to do is: adhere to guidelines, know your market and keep trying.

 JOIN A WRITERS’ GROUP

Or in my case create one! I put Creative Minds Writing www.creativemindswriting.co.uk together almost two years ago and looking back it was the best decision I ever made. By having a group of like-minded individuals on hand to talk to, spit ball ideas with, gain knowledge from, and motivate me I was kept on the writing straight and narrow. I wanted to do well for them, to learn all I could so that I could help them and in the process I got published. The motivation was definitely key; on my own I’d given up my writing dreams more times than I’d care to admit – with them my resolve was stronger. Through the group I’ve met wonderful people and life long friends and, unlike other friends and family who have no interest in writing, their eyes do not glaze over when I excitedly tell them a new idea – they get excited with me.

 SEND YOUR WORK AWAY

This sounds dumb, but I was definitely a pack rat writer. I had file after file of beautifully organised crap just sat gathering dust on my bookcase. Was it going to magically sprout legs and wander off down the road to a major publishing house? No. Well not unless a mouse with a wand got involved (and thinking about it, that whole animated object thing didn’t work out so well for the mouse!) You can’t get published if no one is seeing your work so email those stories, novels, articles, whatever you’re hiding away from the light of day – research a publisher to send them to, polish them up and march them out like paper solders in your own private battle. Like in every war, some will fall by the wayside but others will storm to victory waving your flag for all to see!

But before you send your manuscripts out, let’s talking about drafts and proofing…but you’ll have to wait for my next blog!

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