Sophia Khan

Sophia Khan

Patience. It takes a long time to write a book. Or it takes me a long time to write one, anyway. Then once you've finished, you must find an agent, then a publisher. Then there are edits. And edits. And more edits. It can be ages before your book finally is released

Organisation. I always fancied myself quite organised. When I wrote my first book and I realised I was nowhere near organised enough. Part of the fun of writing is you never know where a story might take you, but even so I now keep meticulous notes and detailed outlines. It is difficult to keep track of whole worlds of people and their lives.

Kindness. Having studied English literature, I was quick to dismiss anything that didn't meet my high standards. Once I saw for myself how much work goes into writing a book I became a little kinder. There is something or the other to appreciate in almost everything one reads.

Attentiveness. In this day and age it is easy to ignore the world. So many of us go about with our eyes glued to our screens. As a writer, you must look up at the world occasionally. You must pay attention if you're to write effectively. Everything, after all, is research.

Discipline. The thing about being a writer is there's no one standing over you demanding results. If you get to work late, no one will know. If you quit early, no one will know. If you let go a paragraph before it's quite perfect, chances are no one will notice. You have to be your own sternest disciplinarian and harshest critic.

Resilience. Most writers hear many 'no's before they hear a 'yes'. Then, before a book is published, it goes through rounds and rounds of ruthless edits. Finally, the book comes out and not every one likes it. In fact, some people hate it. And there's nothing you can do about all this but hold your head high and continue.

Efficiency. Writing is the most wonderful job. Much as I might like to, however, I cannot devote my entire day to it. Unless you have a Vera or a Hadley or a vast personal fortune, there are errands to run, outfits to iron, dinners to cook. They key is to learn to do these things quickly.

Independence. In school you look to your teachers for feedback, in university you look to your professors and in most jobs you look to your boss or to your colleagues. As a writer, you are very much on your own. While others can most certainly provide valuable insight, you and you alone are ultimately the judge of your work.

Confidence. As a writer, you are often asked to speak about yourself and your work. Daunting as it is, I soon realised there is no greater authority than myself on my work. While I still don't enjoy speaking publicly, I can now do so with some degree of confidence.

Selfishness. When writers are working, they don't necessarily look busy. After all, they're just sitting there at their desks, perhaps even staring into space. And so people constantly interrupt. Over the years, I've had to master the delicate art of telling my near and dear ones to go away.