1. Very few people can sit down and just produce a great novel. Learn the craft by taking creative writing courses (try The Writers' Workshop or the online Writers’ Program at the University of California), reading ‘how to’ books and attending writing workshops.
2. Commit to writing a certain number of words a day – whether it’s 100 or 2000 – and don’t let yourself off the hook. You’ll gain momentum from seeing the manuscript take shape.
3. Connect with other authors on Twitter and Facebook, or at writing organisations such as the Romantic Novelists’ Association and local writing groups. It helps to know that all writers experience moments of self-doubt when they don’t know whether they’ve written a masterpiece or 90,000 words for the bottom of the rabbit hutch.
4. Find a writing buddy. If you can swap work with someone whose judgment you respect, you can iron out some of the major issues before your manuscript goes out into the wider world.
5. Be prepared to ‘hear’ your feedback. It’s human nature to want to reject everything that doesn’t start with ‘brilliant masterpiece’ but you’ll make much quicker progress if you accept that any constructive criticism might contain some valid points.
The School Gate Survival Guide by Kerry Fisher is out now.