It’s easy to become horribly self conscious – ‘Is this any good? Will anyone publish/buy this?’ And those thoughts can be really hampering and restricting. So anything you can do to write freely, without that self consciousness, will help your writing. I think it’s important to find a style and a voice, which feels authentic and that you feel comfortable with. A lot of it is instinctive – you know when it feels right, and the more writing you do – every day, ideally – the sooner you’ll arrive at that. There’s a lot of trial and error involved.
Every author says it because it’s true: persevere. Not just with the submission process but with producing material in the first place. Lots of people say they want to write a book but few actually sit down and slog out 100,000 words. If you want to write a book, write it. Only then, whatever the initial standard, will you have an entirety to work on, edit, polish, and eventually show an agent and publisher.
I personally feel at my most inspired during book festivals, workshops and writing classes – I love the classroom environment, probably because college is such a distant memory for me now! There’s just something about being in a room with a group of fellow writers all striving to be better. You always learn so much in the discussions and talks. The only bit I don’t like is having to read your work aloud. I get all shaky and self-conscious and my voice contorts but the feedback you can get is invaluable. So that’s what I would recommend. It’s still a learning experience for me 12 years after my first book was published!
Writing! I’ve met so many aspiring writers who feel frustrated because they read lots of books about how to write and go on countless writing weekends and conferences but come away with conflicting advice that makes them doubt their own ability. Truly, there are no quick fixes to being a writer: it’s a lifelong apprenticeship and the only way to become a better writer is to do it. Don’t worry about whether you’re a meticulous plotter or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants adventurer; if you write 2,000 words a day or only write when you’re inspired; if you write about what you know or dream about things you don’t: there really is no right or wrong way to do it. Just find out what works best for you and learn how to do it better by doing it! Most of all, write because you love it: that has to be at the heart of everything to keep you going