When I began writing seriously eight years ago – with the aim of having my fiction published – I devoured every scrap of information I could find on how to write. Yes, that’s right, ‘how to write.’ As with most things in life, there are two camps on this. One-half feels that the skills of writing can be taught while the other side believes this is just not possible. I side with the former camp.
In Hilary Mantel’s memoir, Bringing up the Ghosts, she explains how her ill-health and subsequent loss of career forced her to take stock and think of what else she could do with her life. It was a defining moment because she turned to writing. As Mantel said, she knew she could write well, although she’d never written fiction before, and so she began to learn. And that is the key word here. LEARN.
But, how? Well, the great news is that you don’t have to take a degree, a Masters or even a simple course. Courses are good in that they are organised and give you direction, peer support and all that goes with college/university study. However, you can direct yourself by reading lots of books, crossing over genres and deconstructing every story. Analyse as you read and you’ll learn a lot about structure and plot. You learn what works and what does not.
But most of all, write. Make it a regular habit and perhaps you can devote a particular time of day such as early morning. Even if it’s just for half an hour here and there. Join your local writer’s group. It’s a social thing and a way of receiving feedback on your writing. There’s a great online writing community to join and websites offering lots of fantastic tips on writing, editing and how to get published. There’s also a vibrant self publishing community thriving online and some great advice on that.
While you’re working on writing, it’s a good idea to set up a simple blog where you can write about writing, your fiction and whatever else takes your fancy. You could think about hosting author interviews and advertising new book releases. Establish yourself on twitter and Facebook and begin to interact with other writers, readers and bloggers. It’s all part of growing your author platform, something which takes a while to establish so it’s best to start as soon as you can. Incidentally, this is something agents and publishers expect you to be doing.
So, there’s so much to say, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Check out the links below for some great info/advice.