Homespun wisdom for the aspiring writer

For a debut author getting published in today’s fast-changing and challenging publishing environment is harder than the proverbial camel (or camel 2indeed baby elephant) squeezing through the eye of a needle. For me it has taken almost a quarter of a century. The best advice I can give any young writer is to write, write and then, when you’re absolutely sick of it, write some more. The globally bestselling literary author John Irving reveals that a defining moment for him came when another novelist pointed out that ‘anything else you do is going to be vaguely unsatisfying.’ Thus the first thing any writer needs to do is make the mental adjustment from saying I’d like to be a writer to saying I am a writer. The real question you should ask is ‘am I good enough?’. In other words:  is my writing of a sufficient standard to put together a well written novel in the genre I want to write in? To answer this you need to be brutally honest with yourselves. Most of us are not.. I wrote my first novel aged 17. I thought it would be a runaway bestseller … it wasn’t. I wrote for 23 years before an agent accepted me. I had a great career in the real world in the meantime, which made it difficult to find time to write but I kept at it, never wavering from my end goal of getting published. I estimate I wrote well over a million words during that period – and completed half-a-dozen novels, garnering more rejection letters than I care to mention. Looking back at my early work I can see how I have become a vastly better writer in terms of the actual quality of the writing but also in terms of pace, plot and characterisation. Unless you are one of the lucky ones who hit instant success your road as a writer will be similar. Never give up.

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