This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Working on your novel this weekend? Sinead Moriarty, bestselling Irish author of Mad About You – one of this summer’s Richard & Judy Book Club picks, is here to offer some advice.
Writing a novel requires two main ingredients – passion and discipline. I think that applies to anyone who achieves any goal. People often tell me they want to write a novel but can’t find the time. The thing is, if you really want to write a novel, you will find the time.
I wrote my first book while in full-time employment. I wrote before work, at lunch time and at the weekends. Almost every writer I have met did the same. It would be foolish to give up your job in the hope that you might get published. My first two attempts at novels were turned down by everyone I sent them to. And I sent them far and wide! One agent said my writing was ‘very irritating’ and I should ‘stick to the day job’. Ouch! A comment like that really stung, and yet in a way it made me even more determined to keep writing. I just knew I had to keep going. I think every writer needs to write. I am really grumpy when I’m not writing. I just don’t feel complete. I know that may sound a bit hippy dippy but it’s how I feel. When I was starting out, I read Stephen King’s wonderful book On Writing. In it he says he tries to write 2,000 words a day. Now that I am writing full time, I try to do the same.
Obviously there are days when it just doesn’t happen. But I really try to achieve that goal and I’m very happy when I do. The most difficult part of writing a novel is the middle section. You start off thinking the idea for your book is wonderful and you’re excited, but then doubt creeps in and you start thinking maybe it isn’t so good. In fact, maybe it’s rubbish. That’s the part where you have to push through. You have to sit there and just keep putting one word in front of another. I promise if you do this, the story will keep moving along and you will find your rhythm again.
The other important thing to remember – I learnt this the hard way – is that the first draft is just that – a first draft. I have written ten books, some of them I had to do huge rewrites for, some of them only small rewrites. I think the biggest re-write was on Pieces of My Heart, I had to re-write half the book. When your editor says ‘it’s just not working’ your heart sinks. Because you know that those four words mean you are going to have to do a lot of work. But the thing about a good editor is that they will help make your book better. You cannot be objective about your own writing. You need a second pair of eyes. You need an editor’s input. I firmly believe your editor should be smarter than you, mine certainly is and I am very thankful for it. Her critical eye has benefited all of my books.
So my advice is – be passionate, be disciplined and find a good editor!