At school all I wanted to do was to write stories. But my teacher thought they were silly so I gave up writing them and focused on science. Ending up fifteen years later with a Biology degree I didn’t want. After university I concentrated on music – my grandfather’s profession – playing in bands in Nottingham for a few years. In my mid-twenties I went abroad to teach English and started writing stories again. I was back where I started. It felt good.
Skip forward another fifteen years and I’m sitting at my desk in an 18th century farmhouse in rural France writing a novel. Everything I’ve done in my life has been leading up to this point. When my teacher put her red pen through my story about humans living inside a giant mountain on the moon and wrote THIS IS NONSENSE at the bottom of it, I may never have picked up a pen again.
Luckily I did and thirty years later I’ve almost finished my novel. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and about writing in general. Some of which I’d like to share with you below. Because if I can do it, so can you.
Blogley’s Guide to Writing Your Novel
- Give yourself time – You need a lot of time to do this. There’s no getting round it.
- Get the story down – Don’t worry about writing a perfectly crafted novel in a single draft. It’s impossible.
- Don’t hold back – If you feel you’re going too deep. You’re not going deep enough.
- Don’t think about getting it published – GET THE STORY DOWN. Without that there’s nothing to publish anyway.
- Organise your time – Have a specific writing slot during the day. For me, eight o’clock in the morning to one o’clock worked very well.
- Have a holiday – Don’t be scared to take time off. Refresh you mind.
- Cookery – This has been crucial in helping me step away from the novel. What’s more important, the book, or the pizza dough? It’s a close one.
- Don’t listen to anybody – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. If people want to offer advice about the book, great. If they want to offer advice about anything other than the book, like for example, ‘Shouldn’t you be thinking about your career!’ Ignore them completely.
- Explore other creative outlets – When you’re not writing your book, be creative. Paint, play music, make films, take photos, write a blog, cook, dance, sing.
- Read books – And read books from genres you may not normally read. A cheesy thriller is sometimes all you need to get your own story moving again.
- Don’t give up – I’ve wanted to pack it in many times. ‘What’s the point? Nobody will ever read it’. But remember this: YOU ARE NOT WRITING THIS NOVEL FOR ANYBODY ELSE. YOU ARE WRITING IT FOR YOURSELF. This is the most important thing I’ve learnt by miles.
- Have fun – Enjoy the process. Enjoy the experience. Enjoy the journey. It may never happen again. Have a beer at the end of the day. Congratulate yourself. Most people never do this. Give yourself a pat on the back and say, ‘Well Done! I’m writing a novel.’
- Don’t be distracted – Don’t feel like there are more important things to do. There aren’t.
- Don’t give up.
- Don’t give up.