This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
I don’t really have average writing days. Some rare days I’ll write for twelve hours straight, stopping only for coffee, pasta and some form of sugar-based treat. More often I’ll spend most of the morning googling recipes and then cooking – preferably dishes that need constant stirring, thus providing the perfect excuse for stepping away from the blank page. Luckily food plays a pretty significant part in my books, so I can more or less justify this behaviour to myself. The only constants in my writing days are coffee, self-doubt and the relentless obsession with what I’m going to eat next.
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When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
I have a few quotes from writers I admire written down that I find motivating – writers such as David Chase, who wrote The Sopranos, and David Simon, who wrote The Wire. Both of them have quite bellicose views on being true to your voice. And also Nora Ephron, who was a genius, and whose view that ‘everything is copy’ is one I adhere to.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I have many favourites, though Nora Ephron’s Heartburn stands out as a great example of a sad, clever, insightful and hilarious book about love and pain. It was a great inspiration to me when I was writing Pear-shaped.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
A combination of planning, involving lots of post-it notes, and jotting down lines, scenes or ideas that I can’t possibly keep in my head any longer. I tend to have certain emotional or plot points that I want to hit, so I usually have them mapped out before I start writing – but at the same time often the bits of prose I like best in the finished work are those that were unplanned, and came about along the way. In terms of drafts – as many as it takes: anywhere from four to fifteen so far.
What was your journey to being a published author?
My grandmother was a writer, and I always wanted to write, but lacked the self-confidence to really go for it. I spent fifteen years working in non-creative roles in creative industries, and reached a point where I felt that if I didn’t give writing a proper shot, I’d end up feeling deeply disappointed with myself. So I wrote a book which took about three years to write; that was picked up by an agent who saw potential in it. However that book didn’t sell – the feedback from publishers was ‘good, but not quite’. I found this hugely annoying and disheartening, but fundamentally you have to keep moving forward, so I wrote another book. This one was much quicker to write, as I found the voice more easily. That book went out to publishers and was bought very quickly – and when I look back now at that first unpublished book, I can only agree that it wasn’t good enough.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’ll make you rich or famous.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
None that hasn’t already been said better by the likes of Stephen King in On Writing, and Anne Lamott in Bird By Bird. Fundamentally, sit down, write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. If you think you can’t improve on what you’ve written, I bet you’re wrong.
What are you working on at the moment?
A new novel – but I’m only at the post-it note stage!