New Year #Honesty

First, apologies for not updating my blog for a while. When you’re a writer who has a full-time job and family obligations, you need to prioritise where your precious free-time goes, and I decided it was best to write novels rather than blog posts.

The New Year always brings us hope and questions. Hope that you will finally reach your goals, but questions of why you haven’t achieved those things already. My goal has been the same since I was a little girl – sign a life-changing publishing contract.

In the past three years I’ve completed a distance-learning creative writing degree, written two full-length novels and two novellas, compiled a massive collection of short stories, traversed several genres, and read hundreds of books. I’ve run a local writers’ group with over 20 members and conducted writing workshops for teenagers. I might just be one of the hardest working writers you’ve never heard of!

I was first published 8 years ago, and back then I was naïve enough to think it meant I had finally made it as a writer – wrong. For every published piece I’ve had to work my behind off, bend over backwards, and sacrifice other aspects of my life. And I still feel no closer to working as a full-time writer. A good friend once told me it takes years to become an overnight success, and this has never rung so true.

For the past year I’ve been changing genres. I love YA, writing and reading it, but it has yet to be lucky for me. As I write this now, I have one thriller in submission, one heading towards a final a draft and a third making my fingers itch. I write fast. By talking to successful authors, I’ve discovered that the best marketing for your book is your next book. Build up your portfolio as quick as you can; that’s my goal for 2020. I still want to write YA, and have some great ideas, but it’s low on my priority list right now.

Reader, one request I’ll leave you with is this: please leave Amazon reviews. These make a massive difference to the author and their book. Amazon’s algorithms work on the number of reviews received – so please take a minute to write a short review for a book you enjoyed. A good story has the power to transport you from the mundane, to cheer you up, engage your emotions, and make you laugh out loud. You will never know the true amount of blood, sweat, tears, which went into writing that book, so thank the author with stars and a few words for taking you on that trip.

Keep your fingers, toes and eyes crossed for me, and hopefully the next time I update this blog will be with some good news…

The writer’s New Year resolutions

I can’t believe that another new year is on our doorsteps again. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was sat in front of my computer and listing all the things I wanted to achieve in 2017. Did I achieve them? Yes, I think I did get my grubby mits on some, but not as much as I would have liked. Are you thinking the same thing? If you are, I’ve come up with a few ideas that might help you finish that novel, get published or even merely feel just in calling yourself a writer.

1) Just write something – I’ve said it time, and again, if you want to call yourself a writer, you need to start writing. You’d be shocked at how many people out there will tell you that they want to write a book, but then never sit down and string a sentence together. Let me be blunt…you will never write the perfect sentence straight off the bat, you just won’t. First drafts are just that, first drafts. No writer anywhere has had a first draft published. We all write the first draft and then edit till we’re blue in the face and sick to death of our own words. This is how excellent prose is made. So just write, anything, everything whatever you like, just start doing something. You need a draft to edit, and elves don’t hack your computer at night and write them for you! Although, it’d be cool if they did!

2) Make a space for your writing – I mean this both physically and mentally. Create a physical space for yourself to write in, This might be a shed by your house (like Roald Dahl), or it could be a desk in your study or somewhere else entirely. Have laptop, will travel. Pick a nice pub or coffee shop and just burrow down with a great drink and some tasty grub and get on with it. I always find the first 10 minutes hard work, but once I pass this marker, I love every minute of it. Top tip, turn your internet connection off. As well-meaning as it might be to have access to online research, believe me when I say that it’s a temptation that just isn’t worth it.

3) Treat your writing like a best friend – you want to spend time with your best friend, right? We all have them, and we all love chilling and gossiping with them. So treat your writing like a friend. Plan to spend time with it. Put it in your diary that you are meeting. You’ll find your attitude to it will change. You don’t want to let your friends down do you? So you’ll turn up for your writing. Call it a name if you need to, Bob, Mr Write, Lady Cornerwinkle, it doesn’t matter. If your writing is important to you, make an effort to spend serious time with it.

4) Keeping it safe – cybersecurity has never been so important, so ensure that you have backed-up your work. Losing something you’ve spent months or even years on is not an option. You’re advised to change your passwords at least every couple of months or so, so do it. Take it one step further and use your book title as your password, every time you punch it in it’ll reinforce what you should be writing on, and before you all try to access my accounts, I also use random numbers in my passwords too!

5) Read – read often, read well and read some more. Books are a writer’s bread and butter. If you don’t know what’s already out there, then that 100,000 word novel about a sexy S&M addicted businessman and an unfortunately annoying virgin girlfriend might prove a massive waste of your time. Read books in your genre, and out of it. If you’re a writer, then odds on you’ll love reading too anyway, but not make an effort to check out Goodreads and Amazon once in a while and buy something to entice and tickle your imagination and more…

So there you have it, 5 top tips for writing in the New Year, because you know what? A year from now, you’ll wish you’d have started writing your novel today.

Now, I’m off to the pub with Lady Cornerwinkle.