In part two of my (semi) regular series on expert tips from those inside the publishing industry, I’ve gone straight to the heart of the biggest problem that many first-time authors face – how to write a book.
As per part one of the series (How To Get Published), all tips are gleaned from interviews on So You Want To Be A Writer, my top-rating podcast with Valerie Khoo. You can listen to the whole interview, or read the show notes, by clicking on the episode link.
“I encourage a spirit of being experimental in your approach and trying everything and see what works and then see what feels comfortable and then committing to that.”
Andy Griffiths, episode 67
“You have to write – write, write, write. I’ve had so many people who love to tell me about the story they’re going to write. I’ve seen people go, “Oh, I’ve thought up a new scene for my book,” … and they haven’t written a word.” Anne Gracie, episode 64
“I wish I were a plotter — I wish, wish, wish I could be. It’s just not in me. I try to do it, because it saves you so much time in rewriting and restructuring later on. But it just isn’t me. … I usually experiment with the voice first, usually I just start writing. But, I only do that for a little bit and then I do try to force an outline, even just a very vague one, before I get too far in. Just because I need to know where I’m going.” Nicole Hayes, episode 60
“I aim for 500 words a day. I went to a workshop a couple of years ago with Peter Heller, who wrote the Dog Stars, and he said that he wrote 500 words a day and that he read about that technique from Graham Greene. Apparently Graham Greene wrote 500 words a day everyday of his life. 500 words a day doesn’t sound like very much at all, but it adds up, five days a week it adds up to, I think 125,000 words a year, which if you count some of those words that you’ll throw away, that’s basically a book a year.” Annabel Smith, episode 56
“I’m not a very good planner, so I start with the first scene and then think, “What could happen next?” “What could happen next?” And I just plug away at it until I get to the end. It feels like a very hard process to me. And then when I get to the end I’ve got this complete thing and I can start structuring it properly and fiddling around with it. It’s quite a long process.” Judith Rossell, episode 51
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I love that both Nicole and Judith admit they’re not plotters – makes me feel slightly better about my writing process. I would so, SO like to be able to plan, but I just don’t seem to be able to. I sit down and write. I know there will be a lot of re-structuring at the end and yes, I’m a tad stuck where to go in my WIP at the moment, but to make an outline? Yeesh…
I’m not an author but these are all very useful tips and I’m going to apply them to my blog thank you.
I have found these articles very useful – and some good wake up calls
Such great advice, Allison. Yes to being experimental, writing and not talking about going to write, and 500 words can take you places!