I first became a writer because my mother gave me a writing kit. I’d been talking about wanting to write for years, but thought because I had three children, a dog, two cats and a husband who was away at sea a lot of the time, I wouldn’t have time to write. Nevertheless, my mother bought a kit full of paper, dictionaries, a thesaurus and Tipp-Ex, wrapped it up in a big bow and gave it to me for Christmas. It was the big kick that I needed. My New Year’s resolution for that year was to start writing my novel, and I’m ashamed to confess it’s the only New Year’s resolution I’ve ever kept.
Everyone is different, but for my three top tips for aspiring writers are...
1. Read a lot
You learn more about writing from reading than you would believe. I think it’s very hard for people who don’t read to become writers. Read anything and everything.
It took me eight years to become a published novelist. I just refused to give up. I think if you’re really determined and you really want it enough, you will do it, but you have to want it more than anything. I’ve wanted other things in my life, like to be a size 10, but I haven’t achieved them because I didn’t want them enough. I did want to be a writer enough and I persevered and eventually I made it.
3. Listen to criticism
Learn to see when criticism is helpful and when it’s not. If somebody says “I can’t get into this book because it’s boring in the beginning”, don’t disagree with them and say, “But that’s how I wrote it, I want them to know all that!” but listen. The fact is, people aren’t going to want to read it if it’s not compelling enough. There are, however, people who will say “No one wants to read a book about a girl who goes climbing without equipment; who would?” But if you know differently, if you know that there are people who would be interested, then take no notice of that criticism. When it comes to editorial criticism, usually people are telling the truth and it is best to listen to it.
The main thing is to really persevere and you will do it. Anyone can if they want it enough.