I’ve come to a decision. Actually, it’s a reversal of a decision made when I first launched my blog – back in December 2013 – when I decided that the world didn’t need any more writers blogging about how to write. That situation probably hasn’t changed, granted, but I have. I’ve learned a lot more since then. I’ve written six novels now – admittedly, not all of them published – all providing a unique learning curve. In addition, I’ve survived several years in the industry and so possibly have some worthwhile things to say. Besides, no two writers follow the same methods, or write the same books. We’re all unique, and over the years, in that limbo time where I languished unpublished, reading about how other people have found their way from Chapter One to The End helped me enormously. Perhaps I have something to add to that canon, and if my experience and know-how helps even one other writer, then it’s worth the effort.
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to write books, but for years I lacked the courage to even try. Back when I left university, the UK creative writing industry in the UK was still a fledgling, not the seasoned old bird it is now. Back then, information on how to write a novel was sparse, and part of the reason it took me so long to get started was I literally had no idea how to go about writing a novel.
Or rather I thought I did. I thought you literally wrote Chapter One at the top of a blank document and off you went. I tried it. The experiment didn’t go well. I floundered, horribly, and the experience was utterly demoralising. It added to my already crippling misconception that writers were born, not made, and my conviction that I hadn’t been blessed with the right genes.
This, thankfully, wasn’t true, though heaven knows it took me long enough to find out. I simply didn’t understand two things: one, you can learn how to write a novel – it is a craft, not a God-given gift. And two, discovering your own particular process – the things you need to do to get to The End – is half the battle. Probably more.
So, I’ve decided to share my process. I am a bit religious about it. Possibly rather anal. But it works for me, and with some adaptation it might work for you too. Take what you like from it, and ignore the rest.
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this link to this gif on Meg Rosoff’s website: