Happy New Year, readers! And our first guest blogger of 2017 is Lisa Thompson, who’s written the brand-new The Goldfish Boy, a book we’re totally dying to read because it sounds amazing! Matthew hates germs and going outside, so much so that he’s practically trapped in his own home. But one day Teddy, the toddler next door, goes missing – and Matthew knows he was the last person to see Teddy. Can Matthew face all his fears in order to turn detective and solve the mystery of the missing child? The Goldfish Boy is out NOW so go hunt it down! And here’s Lisa to spill her biggest secret of all: How To Write A Book!
Hey you! Yes you with your nose in a book! Are you reading that novel and thinking; “I could do this, if only I could work out what the secret is; what is the secret of writing a book?”
Well, look no further! In this handy guest blog, I have all the answers you are looking for…
Okay, so first you need a decent laptop with some good memory space and some fancy writing software, unless, of course, you prefer to write longhand so in that case, you’ll need a pile of colour-coordinated notebooks and a very expensive fountain pen, or pencils… or any old ink pen to be honest…
Secondly you need to read, read, read when you’re not write, write, writing. Read everything you can possibly get your hands on – it will help your writing! Unless you find you are just following the lines with your eyes and not really taking anything in because basically, your brain is fit to burst with characters and plotlines from your own book, let alone anyone else’s.
Finally, you need a routine. Begin your writing at 8am and stop at 4pm and make sure you’ve completed at least 1,000 words. If you haven’t then you must keep going… unless you’ve got to do the school runs and food shopping and maybe clean the house and there’s the car insurance to sort out and oh, you have a day job don’t you? So writing a book at that time isn’t really practical, is it?
Three years ago, if I was reading this article I would have probably quickly scribbled these key ‘secrets’ down before realising I’d been fooled. I was desperate to be a writer and I wanted to know how others did it. Knowing other’s routines is incredibly useful, but they didn’t always work for me and here are a few things I’ve discovered along the way…
You MUST have a daily minimum word count…or not. Many, many writers find that this works for them; write whenever you want but you must hit a minimum wordcount of say 1,000 words every day. For me this just didn’t work. If I only managed 400 words (or even 40 on a bad day) I felt so miserable for not achieving my target it would put me off writing the next day. I also tended to stare at the wordcount, watching it rise frustratingly slowly instead of really noticing what I was putting down. I can completely understand why it works for a lot of people and there are days when I look at my draft and I think; right, let’s try and get this to 32,000 words today, but I don’t worry about it too much if I don’t make it.
Work the same hours every day or else. My general goal is to drop my daughter at school, then work from 9am until 2pm but if I’m honest, a day like that is pretty rare. (Other ‘stuff’ just gets in the way) Most of the time I squeeze writing in where I can. I think it helps to know what time of day you’d prefer to do the bulk of my writing. I’m a morning person so have been known to work from 5am-7am before anyone gets up (but that’s very rare!).
Use a very expensive laptop with a snazzy writing package to be a success! I have an old Toshiba laptop that is beginning to whir like a 1950’s hairdryer so I know it’s not long for this world, but it has served me very well these past few years. I wrote and edited The Goldfish Boy on it (I use Word) and I’m currently using it to write my second book. Every now and then I Google ‘the perfect writer’s laptop’ but this is just another form of procrastination (along with looking through the entire John Lewis website).
Finally, you must READ as many books as possible when you’re writing. This is another one I struggled with; the idea that you can’t write a book unless you read other books at the same time. The trouble with this for me is the voice of the book I was reading would creep into the book I was writing. I don’t stop reading altogether but I avoid similar genres. When that first draft is done then I will read as much as humanly possible – maybe I’ll be reading your novel one day?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll take this advice on board and then go and look at other authors writing habits, searching for that elusive answer to ‘the secret of writing a book’. But as far as I know, there is only one secret you need – find what works for you.
Lisa Thompson worked as a radio broadcast assistant first at the BBC and then for an independent production company making plays and comedy programmes. During this time she got to make tea for lots of famous people. She grew up in Essex and now lives in Suffolk with her family. The Goldfish Boy is her debut novel.
The Goldfish Boy is available now, wherever books are sold.