1. READ. Read widely, and read well. And read critically. Get swept up in the story, sure, but also retain your critical powers. If a book's working for you, examine why. And if it isn't, work out why too. It's about gaining an understanding of the writing process, through reading.
2. WRITE. Write frequently, a little every day. And rewrite. People say 'writing is rewriting' and it's true. I think I prefer the act of rewriting to writing – I like tinkering, crafting, reworking. You know when you've just slapped a sentence down, and when you've really thought about something – learning to self-edit is invaluable.
3. Be KIND to yourself. Create stimulating conditions in which to work. Buy the best coffee. Surround yourself with people, and objects, books, music, art, talismanic trinkets, whatever, anything that you find inspirational. We all require some coaxing, and you wouldn't buy a plant and expect to flourish by never watering it. Feed your creative spirit.
4. But… don't be a SOFTIE. You mustn't sit waiting for your muse to drift by, or divine inspiration to strike. You need to knuckle down, and treat it like a job like any other. You need to write when you don't feel like writing. Submit yourself to the GRIND, and sure enough the light, magical-feeling moments will reveal themselves too.
5. Finally… write about something you LOVE, something that matters to you, and that you're genuinely passionate about. For me the difference between a good book and a great book is a sense of warmth, the feeling that the author was emotionally invested in what they were writing, that they cared about their characters and the world they were creating. How to do that isn't something you can teach, or that anybody can teach you – but everybody has something they care about, and that's what you should be writing.
Emylia’s new book, The Sea Between Us, is out now.