One of the questions I get on a fairly regular basis is how do I find time to write? I have a full time job and a family, and yet for the past few years I have written at least two books a year, as well as editing and publishing two books – both electronically and in print. Along with that does blog and social media posts, and all of the other aspects of a writer life. Yes, finding time can be a challenge, but I’m one of those organised people so I find the time.
And then I procrastinate (something writers are particularly good at doing).
I don’t have writers block, I usually know exactly what comes next or I can make it up as I go. The problem sometimes, for me anyway, is finding the courage.
Writing itself doesn’t take courage. It’s not hard to write something when you have no intention of letting anyone read it. I think this is one of the reasons Roses was so easy to write – I was never going to let anyone read it.
Since then every book has been written with the possibility of publication, or if I’m more honest, the expectation of publication. That can be a frightening thing.
The first person who read anything I wrote was my wonderful beta reader and first-in-line editor, Sarah. Handing the manuscript over to her was like giving her a part of my soul—a very private part of my soul. Terrifying. I couldn’t have given it to just anyone, but I trusted her to handle it with care. And she did. I have been lucky in finding her and my other beta reader, Mary. Both are honest and blunt, but they treat my creativity with respect.
Handing a manuscript to one person is a doddle compared to launching it into the world. Each of my books are edited and assessed by a professional editor, so I know they are as error free as I can make them, but the presentation isn’t the biggest part. Again it comes down to the part of me that I have put into the book, and it was going out to be judged.
I wouldn’t want to know what my pulse rate was like when I hit the publish button on Amazon for the first time. I reckon it would have been sky high! Every time I’ve hit publish since still sends my heartrate into overdrive.
While all of that is a long way down the line from writing the story, it’s the writing process that begins it, and each time I sit down to write it’s on my mind.
One of the best pieces of advice a writer is ever given is this: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles (Shannon Hale). The first draft is allowed to be rubbish—it’s supposed to be rubbish. And yet that knowledge of eventual release hovers overhead. That’s what I find difficult.
So I say the hardest thing about writing isn’t finding the time, it’s having the courage to sit down and write, and write badly.
Blog post 'Having Courage to Write' by Alison Clifford
What's it about?
It's about words and my life as a writer. There are also tips for those starting their writing journey, with a focus on self-publishing, and encouragement all round.