It’s been almost six months since I published my debut novel. But the journey started way before that. Over the last few years I’ve realised writing can be an incredibly rewarding activity. It can also, at times, feel like being pelted with stones. Sometimes you need to repeat some words over and over, and hope they’re absorbed past the skull. Here are my own personal mantras.
- Don’t wait for permission to write. You don’t need anyone else to like your idea before you hit the keyboard (or sharpen your pencil to a fine weapon). It’s tempting to wait for the ‘perfect’ time or other people’s say so. That’s a trap. Choose your own door.
- Write for yours truly. There are a lot of readers out there. With a lot of different opinions. You’ve got to keep yourself entertained first and foremost. Be your own critic. At least for the first draft.
- Do a course. Don’t do a course. Being around other people can be fun. But, then again, no great piece of literature was ever formed by a committee. It’s you and you alone who’ll create this piece.
- Appreciate the reviewers. This doesn’t mean you have to read the reviews. In fact it’s probably best you don’t (and if you can figure out how to resist, please tell me). But know that whatever is being said about your work is all good friction that might just light a fire.
- Ignore the trends. It can take years to write a book. It can take even more years to publish one. Publishing trends come and go. Don’t try too hard to catch hold of one. It might drag you under a bus.
- Never apologise. Sometimes a book will be a love letter to the world. Other times it’ll be a hardened fist. You’ve got to write what means something to you at that particular point in time, even if it’s not what other people expect.
- Ultimately: Care less, write more. Or at least try. And then make yourself some tea. Because tea is nice.
What are your mantras? I’d love to steal them as my own. I hope everyone’s writing is going well and keyboards-be-tapping.