This week I finished draft one of my second book, a fiction novel clocking in at almost 80,000 words.
Getting to this stage is a wonderful feeling, and I'm trying to enjoy it rather than over thinking the next bit. Everyone knows that the hard part (and some might say real work) is in the editing, editing, and more editing that needs to be done to get a book reader-worthy. No doubt I'll also agonise over the cover and the blurb that goes on the back for weeks, and then of course there is the promotional side of things.
I get asked a lot how I find the time to write, and the shortest answer is that I take my writing very seriously. Carving out time amid family life can be tough, but if you are going to make writing a book more than just an unattainable pipe dream then you will also find the time. It's as simple as that.
As for me, I though it might be useful to share the background to the book, and some of the insights I've learnt on my writing journey so far.
A few pointers to help you on your way
You will need a good idea for a storyline. The first chapter of my book was originally written as a short story, but was so well received that I decided to see if I could possibly do what I've always wanted to do and write a book from it. Kate's Story tells the tale of a wife and mum of two who has an affair with her ex, and ends up losing everything as a result. The first chapter tells you the basics, the story is then told in reverse, to see how she gets from the person she was, to the person she becomes.
Remove distractions. And by distractions I'm looking at you Facebook, Twitter, IG , Snapchat, etc, etc. Social media is a huge noisy distraction, and writing amid the chaos can be nigh on impossible. Start by removing the phone apps, and never open social media websites when you get the laptop out for a writing session. If you're a blogger ask yourself honestly about the content and frequency that you're posting. Can you cut down, and can you smartly promote your posts, rather than being glued to your notifications? I made a huge decision at the end of last year, and took a big step back from my blog. Not only have I written a book in the spare time I used to dedicate to blogging, but my blog has gone from strength to strength. Good content is all about quality not quantity.
Just write. Even if you know it's not going to be your best work, writing something is always better than writing nothing. I've had evenings where my brain has been so frazzled from my day with the children that I could barely string a sentence together. BUT, even adding a sentence to the word count is preferable to leaving it the same as it was the day before.
Take every opportunity to write that you possibly can. My kids hate me 'doing work' around them, and are very intolerant of me being on the phone or laptop in their presence. Also, with my sleep situation being as horrendous as it is, staying up late or getting up before the rest of my family (kids are up at 5:30-6am) is not an option. I also like to have a relatively tidy house. All this means I've had to be super creative about making time to write. My exercise bike workouts have doubled up as writing sessions; I took my laptop on our recent holiday and wrote while the girls were at kids club; and I'm that naughty mummy who doesn't switch her phone off in the cinema. I'd rather give the film just 50% of my attention, if it means I get to finish off a chapter.
Squash the monsters. Do not let the self-doubt demons get the better of you. They are vile little creatures who get inside your head and destroy your confidence, the trick is not opening the door and allowing them in in the first place. From what I gather it is perfectly healthy to doubt yourself at points of the book writing process, but being plagued with self-doubt is going to seriously hinder your growth. If you're finding that the monsters are winning too often, and you need a bit of help figuring out where they're coming from, you might find my first book Become the Best You useful.
Us writers need cheerleaders. One of the best things I did was join a writing group, and the encouragement we give each other is invaluable. From thrashing around ideas safe in the knowledge that they won't get ripped off, to helping me push through the self-doubt, my little crew have been amazing. Huge thanks to you all, you know who you are!
It should be fun. If it's not then there could be something fundamentally wrong with your story, so you might want to rethink continuing as is, and change some stuff.
Do you have any top tips for aspiring writers?
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