It’s been nearly three years since my first book was published, and since that time my hobby has become my work. When I started writing The First Book (still lurking in my computer files somewhere, unloved and unwanted) I did it when I had a spare moment, grabbing pieces of paper to scribble on when thoughts came while waiting in traffic, emailing chunks of text to myself when inspiration struck at work (shhh). Opening my laptop on a Sunday morning and firing off a chapter in bed.
Now my job description includes the word ‘writer’, and I’ve had to learn a new routine, and become much more disciplined about my writing. As Somerset Maugham once said: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
So what do I need in order to work?
- My study. At one time it was the study, the one I shared with the rest of the family, but since I became self-employed I painted it pink (I write romance, what more can I say?) and took control.
- Computer – a desktop, because I prefer to see what I’m writing on a large screen. It also means I can easily flick between twitter, email and my work in progress. Not always a good thing.
- A cup of tea and toast. My reward for starting the day with a run or a swim. The endorphins kick start my brain and the toast feeds it.
- Jenson Button. I write about handsome heroes, so I need a little inspiration.
- Pens & sticky notes. Although the writing is done on the computer, I often jot down things as they come to me. Did she say something similar in the last chapter? Was he wearing a black shirt earlier? How many times have I used the word slumped?
- Essential for when the edits come through, so I can pick out the key points I need to change, colour coding for the different characters.
This is harder to list, but the more writers I’ve met, the more writing I’ve done, these are what I believe distinguishes a writer from a person who writes a book.
- Thick skin. Needed at first to read those rejections, later to stomach those poor reviews (umm, hope that’s not just me?!) – and yet still want to write.
- Bloody mindedness. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to find an agent, a publisher, to write a best seller. A writer perseveres. It will come with the next book. Or the book after that…
- A drive, a passion, a need to write. A writer finds it hard to stop thinking about their characters, about plot lines and the next book. A writer doesn’t read a book without making a mental (or often physical) note of phrases, ideas they admire or pitfalls to avoid. A writer doesn’t watch a film, listen to a conversation, stare out of the window without thinking yes and parking an idea in their brain for later.
I think what I’m saying is a writer has to write. It’s their job, their hobby, their relaxation. It’s what they do, but also who they are.
This post is brought to you by Kathryn Freeman.