This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Lucy Robinson is the author of The Greatest Love Story of All Time, which is out now…
1. Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
Ah, the average writing day. If only! For the last few months my work days have been crazed affairs into which I have been cramming multiple writing jobs, TV jobs and ‘other projects.’ It’s been chaotic and uncomfortable. But when I’m not in this multi-tasking madness my workdays are rather lovely. I’ll start around 9.30 and will do six 45-minute periods with breaks in between. Six 45-minute periods doesn’t seem like much but this method is by a mile the most productive I’ve tried. In the past I’ve attempted to sit there for hours hammering stuff out and before long my brain starts to fry and I’ll suddenly find myself ordering Russian hamsters online or scrubbing the shower in running shorts and a top hat. I also try to meditate throughout the day. It helps me focus on just doing the bit of writing that’s in front of me, rather than trying to solve the entire novel and all its problems by 11.30am.
2. When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
No. Phrases that people use, or things that they’ve done, will pop unannounced into my characters words/actions but I’ve never sat down and tried to think of people. Apart from anything else I know nothing about celebrities.
3. What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Oh dear. I’m so very sorry but I’m afraid it’s the 90s bonkbuster Riders by Jilly Cooper. I was enthralled the first time I read it as a teenager. It is several hundred pages of pure fantasy. Fantasy people; fantasy lifestyles; fantasy sex, outfits, behaviour. If life was really like that it would be awesome! I was a rider myself (I’m talking horses here) and I dreamed that I would one day ‘graduate’ from my pleasant but un-glamorous West Country existence to a wild universe rife with the mad, passionate, rich, beautiful, irresponsible sexy people that Jilly Cooper dreamed up.
4. What is your writing process? Do you plan first of dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I do plan first. A bit. I remember being in a café in a remote town in Argentina last year, skyping my agent, Lizzy, about my plans for my second novel. I had this great opening few paragraphs of ‘Plan’ which then trailed off into “and then I’m not quite sure what’ll happen, but hopefully I’ll think of something decent…” I felt a bit ill when I got to this bit but Lizzy reassured me that it was quite normal to develop the story as you go along. It makes sense now. The characters develop as you write, and as they do they take the story into their own hands.
5. What was the journey to being a published author?
It was never my plan to be an author. But a Women’s Fiction Editor called Kate had other ideas. Shortly after I started my Marie Claire blog she contacted me and asked if I’d ever thought about writing a novel. “Yes,” I lied, “I’ve got loads of ideas.” Rather oddly she took me to a gay cocktail bar in Soho on a Monday night where we sipped mojitos, had a good old chinwag and hammered out a story idea (she realised soon after I arrived that I had no ideas at all.) Thank goodness for Kate! 30,000 words in I decided to get an agent and was lucky enough to find a fabulous one who has helped me enormously. She submitted my half-finished novel to various publishers a few months later and after a brief battle of the publishers (the very existence of which sent me into shock) Penguin emerged triumphant. I’m still reeling at how lucky I’ve been.
6. What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
Arghhh! That being a novelist is the perfect job! I am told all the time that my life is idyllic. It’s not. I find writing extremely stressful at times; it’s lonely, confusing, exhausting and infuriating. It takes months to see any results. But equally there is plenty about it that I love – freedom, peace, the ability to run my own schedule. I’m very happy to be doing it in spite of the challenges.
7. What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Hmm. I think share your ideas with other people. Preferably people who know what they’re on about. A friend, another writer, a writing mentor, an agent – I’m sure it’s possible to go it alone but had I done so I would never have started a book, let alone finished two and started a third. Sharing my work regularly with my agent Lizzy helps me solve problems, regain lost confidence in a particular character/storyline and never fails to bring in new ideas that would otherwise have eluded me. Most of all it helps me identify the awful writing that should never have made it out of the compost in the back of my head.
8. What are you working on at the moment?
Writing-wise, I’m editing my second novel and starting my third. The second is about a mad workaholic (no idea where I got that particular character from…) who starts meddling in other peoples’ love lives with rather cataclysmic results. It’s set in Edinburgh and London. The third is top secret. It’s definitely my most ambitious yet but I reckon I’m up to the challenge! I’m also doing lots of publicity-related stuff for my first novel; I shot a trailer for it last weekend and am doing all sorts of interviews and pieces.