It was a toss-up between writing and a writer. One part of me wanted to write about P.G.Wodehouse, my favourite author. Another urged me to write about an old passion which is now a central part of my life, writing!
Wodehouse is too well-known and I would merely be adding on to the praises heaped upon him and his work. For a change, let me share my thoughts on writing. By way of context, let me say that I was a late starter with my debut novel “It Can’t Be You”being published in November 2010. I was two weeks into my 60 th year, having semi-retired as it were by then after 35 years professional work as a talent management specialist and executive coach.
You need to be passionate about writing. There are good days when you are extremely productive and there are bad ones when you can’t get too many words down. You need to plug on. If you aren’t passionate about writing, this can be a tough one. Leading on from there, I think it’s important to discover the genre in which you are comfortable. Simply stated, you can’t be everything to everybody. For example, I chose to be a writer of thrillers as I am totally fascinated by that genre. This interest started years ago when I was growing up on a diet of James Hadley Chase, Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth, Ian Fleming and the like. I can’t be a writer of romance or science fiction, that’s for sure.
I believe writing fiction is more challenging than writing non-fiction. While the latter is more fact based, in fiction you use your imagination far more. Yet it has to be tempered within the boundaries of reason. You do need a vivid imagination to write good fiction. Your plots should be credible while they make the readers gasp at something they hadn’t thought of. They should be interesting while leaving lots for the reader to imagine. I am perhaps speaking more of the thriller genre as I write these lines.
You need to be patient to be a successful writer. There will be successes but these are likely to be a few and far between. There will be rejections and often they come in thick and fast. Don’t despair. You need to be resilient, as in real life very few actually get to enjoy the glamorous side of writing; the obscenely huge advances and star status as a celebrity of sorts. Don’t expect people to fall over your writing. You have every right to love your masterpiece but there are tough critics out there. Develop a thick skin . You will need one.
Writing like any other skill needs practice. The only way to improve your writing is to write more. Learn from your mistakes, identify your weak points and go all out to consciously avoid the traps you fell into last time! In my experience writing need s a certain rhythm to it. If you write everyday, may be about 500 words, not 5 or 10, it would be much easier for you to write more. If on the other hand you write in fit and starts, your output will suffer. You could be highly enthusiastic each time you make a fresh start but your writing suffers due to a lack of rhythm, if you know what I mean.
I am working toward getting my second book published later this year. Plans are afoot for the third book I shall be starting soon. Yes, I repeat writing can be very satisfying, if you know what you are looking for.