1. Learn to say ‘no’. It’s taken me a long time to be able to say ‘no’ to that invite to coffee/lunch/art exhibition when I’m really, really busy and there’s a deadline getting dangerously close. That said, I’m aware that my friends can’t be fair-weather friends – i.e. I only want to see them when I haven’t got any writing to do – so I say ‘yes’ as often as I can. But sometimes it has to be ‘no’. I’m not a pair of elastic-waisted M&S trousers – I wasn’t made to fit everything in.
2. Accept there will be days when you will write a load of total tosh and the button you hit the most will be ‘delete’. Also accept that as long as you are writing you are a writer – who knows how much Shakespeare threw away? Could have been tree-loads for all we know, couldn’t it? So, get over it and have a Scarlet O’Hara moment – tomorrow is another day.
3. When you’ve finished your first draft of whatever it is you’re writing – short story, novella, novel – ask yourself these questions:-
Whose story is this? – It is so easy to find other characters hogging the stage, especially if, like me, you are a pantster rather than a plotter.
What does he/she want? – There has to be some sort of yearning for something, and it’s best if it’s not easily obtained.
Who helps? – No hero or heroine can get through 300 or so pages without help of some sort.
Who hinders? – Make your baddies really gut-curdlingly horrible. Well, I do!
How do they achieve their aims? – BY THEIR OWN EFFORTS – capitals intended here.
4. Join a writing group that suits. Being among like-minded folk who understand what rejection – and success! – feels like is so important. You may have to try a few before you find the right one. I belong to Brixham Writers and we meet once a week. Some might find that two frequent, but it does make me focus when I have to stand up and read from work-in-progress. See tip one, above, which I do have to use on occasion even to my writing group.
5. Train your husband/wife/significant other/family to accept there will be nights when Cordon Bleu (in my dreams!) meals don’t appear on the table (unless they want to cook them themselves) and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference ones do. Woman can not live on sandwiches alone!
Linda Mitchelmore's latest book is To Turn Full Circle