The secret of writing is simple. All it involves is placing one word after the other to form a sentence. Then place one sentence after the other to form a paragraph. Then one paragraph after the other to form a chapter. And by the end of it all, you have a novel. Of course this whole process can take years – about two years per novel in my case and you have to inject the words and phrases with the sparkle of imagination and loads of research. But its no use waiting around for inspiration, or for it to be raining so you are forced to be indoors, or for the write feeling to grab you, or for the house to be quiet. You have to forget about the sunshine, the kids, the beach, the garden, the hills that are calling you to walk them, and lock yourself away like a monk in a cell. I often liken myself to a monk transcribing and decorating an illuminated manuscript. Patiently, painfully working in minute detail.
You dont need a beautiful office with a garden outlook. I wrote my first two novels in the corner of our bedroom, my laptop perched on a small cane table sitting on a kitchen chair. All you need is a computer or pen and paper, and your imagination. And you dont even have to go to the library because you can research almost everything on the internet.
Inspiration will not come to those who wait. Writing begets inspiration, its not the other way around.
Setting yourself a realistic writing goal is also the key.
One of my favourite books on writing is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. In the chapter called Short Assignments she talks about a one inch picture frame.
There are many days when I lose confidence in my novel, in my own ability and its in times like these that I turn to Bird by Bird. Lamott says that all you have to do is to write down as much as you see through that one inch frame. Just take your story inch by inch or bird by bird as she puts it.
My seven day writing goal is to move my story along by 500 words. These first words dont have to be perfect, nobodys going to see them. Later you go back and fix them up. The main thing is to get the story down, to move it forward. Many authors like to write the whole first draft of their novel without editing. I like to do some refining as I go, especially the beginning chapters.
So there you have it, the secret of writing.