Monday, 1 August 2016

Eight Tips I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming An Author by Lynda Spiro

Before writing There Is Always More To Say, I had never disciplined myself into writing an entire novel. I had neither the experience nor the knowledge. I just started writing down my thoughts! What I have learnt along the way has been invaluable to me. Particularly as I prepare for my next great adventure. Below are some tips which I would like to share with you. Tips that I believe have helped me to become a better writer over time.
  1. Finding my environment
    1. I found this to be incredibly important. Personally, I love writing early in the morning or late in the evening when my mind isn’t distracted by other things in my day. I love being alone with my thoughts. It also gives me more time to think, sometimes reading passages aloud or listening to music. But this is just me! Think about how and where you work best and try to make it as constructive an environment as you can.
  2. Listening to my characters
    1. I don’t always know what my characters are thinking. I don’t always know what they are about to say, or what they want to do. It’s only when I start writing that it comes to me. This isn’t because I don’t plan. But I like to be flexible and see what happens. Where I get taken to. Try to take some time to listen to your characters. You never know where they might end up taking you.
  3. Write, write, and write again!
    1. Before I wrote There Is Always More To Say, I never knew how long the writing process would take. Although I did set myself a deadline of one year! And I didn’t really think about what the process would be like. Or what it would entail. I also didn’t realise that I would not be writing the story from beginning to end. But in individual sections that I would then combine to create the whole book. Because seemingly this is what worked for me. When I wrote each piece, I would always return to it at a later date. This meant that many aspects of the story changed along the way. This was because I had the framework, but not always the details. I recommend you try the same! You never know how your fifth draft will differ from your first draft. It takes practice and refinement. Rewriting my work helped me establish the universe in which my novel was set. I hope you try the same.
  4. Story comes first – always
    1. Sometimes I wanted to take my characters on crazy adventures. This may have been because of something that had happened to me during that particular day on which I was writing, or something I had recently overheard or seen somewhere. Did it benefit the story I was trying to tell? No. Always remember the story you are trying to tell, and that the actions of your characters have reactions. Do they make sense for the novel as a whole? I learnt along the way that it’s not always either necessary or beneficial to include every idea. The story is paramount. There are always more stories to tell! There is always more to say!
  5. Leaving the comfort zone
    1. I would say that writing a novel allowed me to completely leave my comfort zone. I think it has been one of my greatest achievements to date! I loved the whole experience from beginning to end. I loved realising a project that I had never attempted before. The same should be for you. You never know where your imagination will take you by trying new things. Trust me, it is so much fun!
  6. Don’t be afraid of constructive feedback
    1. It can be a scary process when you seek feedback on a piece of work. Especially when it’s your creative baby. I found that the initial responses from a friend and also from my husband helped to propel the story into a more refined and perfected product. It really helped both me and the story. Their unanswered questions were easy for me to answer. I was given the opportunity to fix some crucial issues that I hadn’t seen whilst I’d been writing. I had left some ‘holes’ in the story. These were easy for me to fill in as they were in my head. But I had assumed that the reader knew more than I had explained. I recommend finding someone you trust and giving them snippets to review for tone and story. For me, it was my best friend and husband. For you, it could be a friend, a family member, or even a stranger! It’s extremely important to get a second pair of eyes along the way. Or maybe even a third and fourth! Whatever works best for you
  7. Always read, except for when you write
    1. I love reading, but I found it very distracting whilst I was actually writing There Is Always More To Say. This was because sometimes the tone, style, or language of the author I was reading would want to appear in my work. So although I think it’s really important to never stop reading, for me whilst writing I cannot read other people’s work for fear of being influenced by their words. Remember you want to keep your words yours. And the subconscious can do strange things.
  8. Write everyday – it is always a success
    1. Whilst I was writing There Is Always To Say, I would never let a day go by without writing anything. Even if it was just a few sentences in the notebook that I carry around with me. I wanted to maintain my flow and keep by creative style alive. It was very important to me that once I had started my novel, it wasn’t interrupted. I wanted to keep the flow, the tone, and the journey constant. That’s why I would suggest writing everyday – if only a few words. Never let your story leave your mind.

These are some of the biggest lessons I learnt whilst writing There Is Always More To Say. It was an incredibly exciting journey for me. It was difficult at times, and sometimes disheartening. But that’s what having a creative mind is! Throughout the ups and downs of writing my first novel these eight points helped me to achieve my dream. I hope they help you achieve yours. Good luck!

Lynda x

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