I wanted to write books from about the age of 8 or 9 when I discovered Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series – that was the moment I knew I was destined to become an author…

Rachel Brimble, A Very Modern Marriage

Rachel Brimble, A Very Modern Marriage

Of course, things didn’t progress as simply as waiting for fate to find me. I left school at 16, worked at a bank for the next 9 years before I fell pregnant and left to have my first daughter. Daughter number two came along 2 years later, and it wasn’t until she started school full-time in 2005 that I had a ‘now or never’ moment. It was time to sit down and start writing a novel worthy of publication.

That novel was accepted by The Wild Rose Press in 2007 and I have had at least two books published every year since by publishers such as Harlequin Mills & Boon and Aria Fiction in the UK as well as Kensington and The Wild Rose Press in the US. I am now writing my 30th novel.

Writing is my joy…most of the time. It can also be my absolute nemesis when things are going badly but, overall, I LOVE what I do!

As you’d expect after writing novels for 17 years, I have picked up some tips and learned a few lessons along the way. So, what wisdom would I impart to my younger writer self? Let’s see…

1) Write What You Love – one of the mistakes new writers make is to jump on the bandwagon of whatever is selling in the book world when they begin to write. Trends are trends and likely to change or be something different entirely by the time you’ve finished your book. Stick to the genre or genres you love to read – not only will you enjoy the process so much more, but it is also likely you will know more about the structure of those stories than you realise.

2) Take Some Courses – I am not advising you spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds. In fact, as a self-taught writer myself, I think most of what makes a writer is intuition and a deep love of stories, BUT there are plenty of free (or almost free!) online courses on point of view, setting, characterization etc available. It will do no harm to enroll in these courses and learn more as you write.

3) If possible, Find A Writing Buddy – writing is lonely, scary and often something you want to do so successfully that you’re afraid of sharing your dream with anyone. Well, this was true for me anyway. Then I joined some writers groups and started joining in online conversations. Soon I’d made friends who then became my supporters until I ended up with two wonderful critique partners who have now worked with me for years. It is so good to have someone look at each chapter of your work as you write it and vice versa. Receiving and giving supportive and constructive feedback on your work can improve it so much more quickly.

4) Give Yourself Permission to Write A Crappy First Draft – this is actually the best advice I was ever given. Your first novel (or your 30th!) is very unlikely to be perfect so just enjoy the writing! Get the first chapter down, then the next and then the next and so on. Don’t worry about perfecting it – the polishing comes in the later drafts.

5) Get To The End – Most writers (myself included) have unfinished novels sitting in a drawer somewhere or on their computer, but at some time we finished a complete novel and then had the courage to submit it to an agent or editor. If you never get to The End, the truth is, you will never be a writer. Simple. Get the book finished!

Happy Writing!

Rachel x

A Very Modern Marriage, by Rachel Brimble is published on 12th May by Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus. Available to buy in paperback for £8.99.