Best tip: start now
You dream of being the next J.K. Rowling or Paula Hawkins but that pesky job, not to mention your social life, family commitments and gym visits keep getting in the way… Luckily the good folks at Reedsy, a site which connects authors to publishing professionals, as well as provides free tools and advice to writers, are on hand to offer some top tips to help you stay on track.
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike
If you want to start writing, don’t wait for inspiration to strike, set aside time and stick to it. Or in the words of best-selling indie author Shannon Meyers: “Because writing is such a creative job, there’s this feeling that ‘I can’t write unless my muse is speaking to me’. And the reality is: the muse is your bitch, not the other way around.”
Learn to say ‘no’ or at least, ‘not right now’
There will always be something more pressing to do: taking the dog for a walk / clothes to the cleaners / answering that email. So once you’ve decided on your writing schedule, turn off the TV, set your phone to silent and deal with any distractions, invitations or chores once you’ve finished.
Know who you’re writing for
Remember it’s not just about what you’re writing but who you’re writing for. As ex Simon & Schuster editor Katrina Diaz says: “Understanding your market is essential if you want to reach the right readers — and everything from the genre categorisation, book description and cover design, works together to identify that.”
Set realistic goals and targets
Rather than setting intimidating goals such as ‘I’m going to write a 90,000 word bestseller’ break the task up, starting with say, 500 words a week or 20 minutes a day, and build from there. This way it’s easier to fit writing in around existing commitments and the process will seem far less daunting.
Think of writing as ‘me time’
Instead of thinking of writing as another chore to tick off the list or something you ‘must get done’, reframe it as a relaxing activity and a chance to be completely creative away from the pressures of work and life in general. Go to your favourite cafe, order a hot chocolate and make it all about you.
Don’t go it alone
Once the first draft is complete, you’ll need to take the plunge and get someone impartial — ideally a professional editor — to read over your work. As self-published author Leslie Heath says: ‘I didn’t agree with every suggestion my editor made, but I used them as jumping-off points where I could improve my story. Instead of getting upset at her feedback, I saw it as an arrow pointing to a problem.’
It’s not all about traditional book deals any more – many very successful authors choose to self-publish. It can be a great option to quickly and easily get your work ‘out there’ but there are a number of factors to consider including editing, marketing and book cover design.