No matter how huge and intimidating a task is, it is achievable – if you break it down into manageable chunks. I wrote my novel Outreach by setting myself a weekly target of 1,500 words. 60 weeks later I had my first draft, a point I’d probably have never got to if I hadn’t broken the process down into bitesize chunks.
Criticism is okay – something that, as a perfectionist, I have struggled to accept in the past. Criticism can help you look at your writing differently and make it better. That said, having the confidence to stick to your guns if you disagree with other people’s opinions is hugely important. Have faith in your writing and listen to your gut.
With a little bit of planning and tweaking, it’s amazing what you can squeeze into your diary. Getting up half an hour earlier even a couple of times a week to write goes a long way.
I can write pretty much anywhere. As long as my have my laptop, my headphones and some mellow music, I can write. Train journeys are particularly productive and probably account for a sizable chuck of Outreach.
Putting my writing out into the big wide world was not easy for me – I struggle to separate myself from my work and knew that it would be hard not to take rejection letters from publishers and agents personally. But I survived and kept going. If I hadn’t, Outreach would probably still be filed safely on my hard drive.
Less is more. I love a good adjective, but they aren’t always necessary and can be quite distracting. Trust your readers ability to embellish the words on the page with their imagination.
Everyone’s perspective is unique. Some people love what others hate. But, even more interestingly, what people take from a story is incredibly subjective. With Outreach, some people have read a story about a girl struggling to build a career for herself. Others hone in on her relationship with her father. Some people hate Emily, whilst others feel sorry for her. It’s been very enlightening to hear how people describe my book.
Some people get “Writer’s Block”. For me, it’s more like “The Wall” marathon runners hit. The only way I know how to get through it is to keep going. Even if it feels like I’m getting nowhere or it’s painfully slow, it is still progress. Those initial words might just be the bare bones, but they are something that can be returned to for fleshing out. Quite often, when I go back over a piece that I really struggled with, it is a lot better than I thought it was when I first wrote it.
I fresh pair of eyes see so much. After writing and the initial editing stages of Outreach, I put it to one side for a couple of years whilst I retrained as a counsellor. When I came back to it, I saw it much more clearly. Even two months can put enough distance between you and your writing for you to be able to read it more objectively.
My friends and family are amazing. The support I have received from them since I announced that I was publishing Outreach has been phenomenal – people have not just gone out and bought a copy, but they’ve been telling their social networks about it too, whether it be via social media, at work or down the pub. Apparently, a few people have put it on their Christmas list or have bought a copy as a stocking filler for their friends and family. Imagining people settling down to my novel after their roast Turkey is quite surreal…
Outreach is available to buy now from Amazon, Book Guild and all good bookshops!