This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Today we have a little nosy into the writing life of Eleanor Moran, whose latest book is the fabulously witty Breakfast In Bed
My Writing Room by Eleanor Moran
I've always craved an average writing day, but I wrote my first 3 novels round a really busy full time job as an executive producer for drama at the BBC so I never had the luxury! I write on the train to Cardiff for script meetings, trying not to drop crumbs into my keyboard, I write before work, after work, at weekends, always ensuring I have one clear day off. I find it really hard to sit down and write at my desk, I get such itchy feet, so I rotate between various North London caves. It's amazing I'm not either bankrupt or thirty stone considering how much French toast I've eaten in Ottolenghi in the pursuit of literary greatness. I tend to thank them in the acknowledgements. There's great eavesdropping potential too (all writers are terrible magpies, even if they don't admit it).
I'd wanted to write a book ever since I can remember, and used to write long, rambling stories as a child. I was lucky enough to work in TV drama from my early twenties, doing things like story lining Where The Heart Is or giving notes on Spooks scripts, so it wasn't such a leap to start writing my own plots. That said, I used to sit in front of a blank screen fantasising about writing a book with absolutely no inspiration. Two things happened; my boyfriend proposed, and I realised I needed more time but also that we either had to marry or separate, and one of my best friends dropped out of an Arvon writing course and begged me to take her place. Without that course I would never have become a novelist – it gave me a week's space to immerse myself in writing with the support and encouragement of the teachers. I wrote my first 5000 words of Stick or Twist, and was determined to finish it. Someone there told their agent at Curtis Brown about it, and they rung me up and asked to read it (how lucky is that!) Now I had an agent and had to finish it. Nine months later I was newly single, with a two book deal from Penguin.
Advice wise, I would say read voraciously but respect and nurture your own voice. No-one writes just like you. Know what genre you're writing in, and make sure you love it and you're not just writing in it because you think it's commercial (a sure fire way to lose your voice). I think either a residential course or a writing group is brilliant – it can be an incredibly lonely path to walk, and having the support and also the technical advice can really unlock it and prevent you falling at the first hurdle. In order to get published you really do need an agent – the Writers and Artists handbook is a great place to look for one. You want an agent who really gets your genre: if I had a crime specialist they'd probably run away in horror as I prattled on about man boobs! Do make sure you've got a strong enough concept for your book: can you explain it succinctly and compellingly? It's an incredibly crowded market place and you need to stand out. I would also guard against making it too autobiographical – of course it will draw on your own story, but it needs to do more than that to engage a wide audience. I teach sometimes and I often see people fall into this pitfall.