This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Siobhan McKenna is the author of The Lingerie Designer and The Other Woman. Read our full interview here.
Just Do It. My partner wrote those words on a piece of paper and I taped them to the wall beside my computer screen. When I was inclined to wander off or get distracted, his words would get me back on track. It worked for me; I believe I finished my first manuscript because of it.
Invest in a professional editorial service before you submit to agents or publishers. I know it is hard to hand over money when you aren’t earning a living from writing yet, but look at it as an investment. A good editor will whip your manuscript into shape and be able to give advice on what publishers want. Ideally, get a recommendation or a list of accredited editors in your country.
Read, read and keep reading. Note what you like, dislike and what works in a book for you. That said, I never read while I’m writing. I find it too distracting and I don’t want to be influenced by another author’s voice. That means I have approximately a ten week window to read a year’s worth of books! On more than one occasion people have said to me they’d like to write a book, but they don’t read themselves. That always strikes me as odd. To be a writer you have to be passionate about books – yours and other peoples. It’s never to late to start a reading habit.
Get an agent. This will take time and perseverance and may require you going to conferences or workshops to have a chance of meeting them face to face. Having a good agent, who believes in your work, will make all the difference in negotiating the publishing minefield. Also, publishers are more likely to take your manuscript seriously if a respected agent presents it to them. Do your research on the right agent for you and follow their submission guidelines and remember to follow up. They’re busy people, don’t make a nuisance of yourself, but do show your dedication.
Let your creativity flow. I got this tip from Stephen King’s book On Writing – a must read for every aspiring author. You can tidy up the details later but for the first draft just let your imagination loose. I keep this draft private. That means I can write freely but I do think of my ‘ideal reader’ in the back of my mind. They act as a subconscious voice when I’m writing – like a muse. I try not to think about Auntie Mary in Cork when I’m writing sex scenes (sorry, auntie Mary!) Or I end up scrapping them. So use your discretion on this tip – keep your reader in mind, let that act as a guide but try don’t let it inhibit you. By the second draft do get feedback on your manuscript from someone you trust and who you know will be honest with you (so probably not your mother, if she’s anything like mine she’ll be your biggest fan no matter what you write.) The creative process is a fantastic experience, relish it.