Please note that everything on this page is based on my personal experience and what worked for me. But weâ€™re all different so it may not necessarily be right for you!
- First of all, writing is hard work. I read of one famous author who takes just six weeks to write a novel but I donâ€™t know many like that. For most of us it takes months and while there are moments of sheer joy and ecstasy when itâ€™s flowing like a torrent, there are moments of despair when itâ€™s all gone pear-shaped and you doubt itâ€™ll ever come right. But it does â€“ if you keep at it.
- Read widely, especially authors whom you admire and whose writing youâ€™d like to emulate, without making a carbon copy of their style or stories! I love to read (fairly) widely but, when Iâ€™m actually writing a book, I donâ€™t read. This is a real hardship (as it can take me six months, or more, to write a book) but necessary because I find myself copying the style of the author Iâ€™m currently reading!
- Spend some time learning from other authors. You can buy all sorts of â€œHow toâ€ books on writing and most of them are well worth reading. Try Writing Magazine too for tips from published authors and experts in the field.
- Read the Writersâ€™ and Artistsâ€™ Yearbook for great advice, analysis of trends and developments in publishing and to familiarise yourself with the industry.
- Join organisations for writers as soon as you're eligible â€“ they're a great source of support, advice and friendship in what can be a lonely and isolating business. I greatly value my membership of the Society of Authors and The Romantic Novelistsâ€™ Association and go to meetings and conferences when ever I can.
- Write a synopsis and work out your characters, setting, themes, main and sub-plots before you start. Having a synopsis doesnâ€™t mean you canâ€™t deviate from it and it wonâ€™t stifle your creativity. But it will help prevent you from going up blind alleys and getting yourself in a right pickle. Iâ€™ve written synopses of between 5,000 to 20,000 words for each of my books (as well as character profiles for all main characters) and find that they get longer with each one, because theyâ€™re such a valuable tool.
- When youâ€™re writing a book, try to write every day even if you really donâ€™t feel like it. It helps to stop the creative juices from drying up! (That's a bit rich coming from me - it's what I know I should be doing, not what I actually do...)
- Set yourself a daily target and try and reach it, even if you feel that what youâ€™ve written isnâ€™t good. The next day you can edit it and somehow you see things more clearly looking at it afresh.
- Try and finish each dayâ€™s writing in the middle of a scene, at a point of climax etc. It makes starting the next day that much easier.
- Donâ€™t bother sending a synopsis or sample chapters out to agents or publishers until youâ€™ve finished your book â€“ all theyâ€™ll do is ask to see the finished work and you want to be able to send that to them immediately they show any interest. Otherwise they might have forgotten who you are by the time you finally get it finished and sent off to them ten months later!
- Itâ€™s OK to send your manuscript out to more than one agent or publisher at a time, though itâ€™s a good idea to be honest and tell them that youâ€™ve done so.
- Be prepared for rejection and donâ€™t take it personally. Books are rejected for lots of reasons and sometimes itâ€™s got nothing to do with the quality of the writing. Be persistent.
- Adopt a cheerful, up-beat and professional persona. Be positive and proud about your writing.