So You Want to be a Writer – Five Steps to Writing Heaven

First draft is just the beginning

1. So you’ve decided to be a writer of novels. You’ve maybe taken a class or a course. You’ve read a couple of  ‘how to’ manuals. You have an idea for a story. You understand about ‘character’,’ plotting’,’ setting’  ‘point of view’ and ‘voice’. You go for it and over weeks, months, years you get the story written. You write ‘The End’ and put it away for a month or so to let it ‘drain’ or ‘simmer’ – (pick your metaphor). 

2. Then you retrieve it. You share it with other writers, get feedback – and on this point I can’t recommend highly enough having one or two writing buddies. That is other writers with whom you have a mutually supportive, but above all honest relationship – people who will tell you painful truths like ‘get rid of that character, that plotline – they stink!’ Or who will push you to extend yourself when you need it and who will praise and encourage you when you deserve it. 

3. And finally you revise, redraft and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.  And now it’s ready to submit to agents and publishers, right? 

4. WRONG! Please, please consider getting your manuscript professionally edited. Word of mouth recommendation is best – as with most things – but if you can’t make contact that way, then there are professional bodies for editors  – in the UK the SfEP website is a good starting point – and they are worth investigating. Yes it costs money BUT you should see it as an investment – in yourself and in your writing. I can personally recommend my own editor, John Hudspith,  who also happens to be an excellent teacher of writing. 

5. THEN – take the editorial advice and rewrite AGAIN. Now you might just might be ready to seek publication.  

There are a lot of  ‘how to’ manuals out there – I list several on the ‘Writing’ page of this blog – but one of the best – if not the best – that I’ve discovered so far is one first published in 1934 – and still in print and that’s Dorothea Brande‘s book ‘Becoming a Writer’. 

See you in Nirvana aka on the bookshop shelf… 

The 3rd most beautiful bookshop of the world!
Image by stukinha via Flickr


Half Birthday

Six months now since ‘Change of Life’ was published. It hasn’t quite made it into the bestsellers  – I know! – How can that be? 🙂

Joking apart – I won’t know until the autumn how many copies have been sold, but it’s not about that – honestly it’s not!

It’s been great fun – seeing it in bookshops and on Amazon and getting lots of lovely positive feedback from readers – some of them haven’t even been friends or family. One of the most pleasing ‘crits’ was from the manager of a branch of Waterstones who got in touch to say how much she’d enjoyed it and that it was going on the shop’s recommended summer reads table. Cool or what?! And it’s lovely when people ask me to sign their copies or say that they’ve recommended it to others.

Mind you, not everyone is treasuring their copy or seeing it as a potential investment. The book has been spotted  in a local charity shop. I’m not sure whether to be miffed of chuffed – I mean recycling it is better than binning it isn’t it? Yeah, the donor probably enjoyed it so much that they wanted to share that joy…

I keep a copy on my desk and sometimes pick it up and stroke it or read a page at random just to remind myself that ‘I did this!’ Having it nearby when I’m writing helps to spur me on when the going gets tough with novel two.

So not a bestseller but I reckon it’s still something to be proud of – and if you bought a copy – thank you.