Hello, world! Welcome to my blog. Here, I will attempt to impart information about the dangerous world of fighting literary crime and creating it on the side.
What the hell am I banging on about? That would be me. This blog will look at the two sides of the written word: fact and fiction. As a magazine Editor by day and a wannabe novelist by night, I have slowly began to understand many differences and similarities between writing creatively in these dual mediums.
I have been planning to blog for a long time; and procrastinating for just as long. What should I write about? What do I have to say? And how can I schedule it in around drinking wine and eating chocolate? (Answer: do not. Do these activities and blog simultaneously. Result – liquid literacy… lovely!).
Which brings me to my first lesson in written words: if you know you want to write something, or write anything, in the words of Nike: just do it.
When writing for magazines, a lot of people will email through pitches and story ideas, waiting for an Editor to commission them before starting the story. My advice? Just start. Write your story, pitch it to an Editor on spec, and see what happens. The sad truth is, most Editors I know receive hundreds of pitches from prospective writers every week. Sending me a letter saying you have graduated from university and you love my subject matter (particularly amusing when they act vaguely, or write something completely irrelevant as a result of a bad copy and paste job – memorable replies such as “Dear Rachel, I am so glad you enjoy writing about weddings and brides, but where exactly does this fit into my pet magazine?” stand out!).
The point is, there are many good writing people throwing themselves at us Editor folk every day (and, every now and then, we have some okay work of our own, too!) and the odds of me choosing you to write something when you haven’t so much as pitched me an idea versus the chances of me choosing one of my regular contributors, who I trust and have used multiple times, are pretty slim. I’ll pick the safe bet every time.
BUT if you send me a story on spec and I can read it, check out the quality of your work and I think that it’s top notch, of course I am going to publish you. I’m not a heartless bitch and, damn it, your work could sell me magazines! So, if I don’t already know you, start a story and send it to me and maybe we can work something out.
By far the best advice I have ever received when writing fiction is to just start. If you sit about too long pondering over what will happen in your story, what your main character’s middle name is, what their favourite food was as a child and why they’ve held a grudge against the girl who stole their yellow pencil in primary school, you will eventually lose momentum and just get over it.
To clarify, I’m not saying don’t plan. Planning your story, having an idea of what you’d like to say and the general characters and sequence of events is fantastic and something I personally have found to be invaluable. What I’m trying to get across here is: don’t get caught up in the details and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Have you been planning your novel for two years and are yet to put pen to paper? You need to start! Write, write, write and keep going until you’ve got a good few chapters under your belt. Write something, write anything and remember you can always delete it and fix it later. Have some basic idea of your audience and where you’d like to take them, but don’t stress if you deviate from your original plan.
This is probably the reason competitions like NanoWrimo are so successful: they force you to write and hit a word count, come hell or high water! They make you start, regardless of the strength of your first sentence or your second paragraph.
So, don’t delay! Put a pen to paper today and start writing something. I promise you that it will be worth it.