Hopefully at some point in time you have faced the inevitable. You have given in to your deepest most feelings, (no not the one about the biscuits) those ones that have been telling you to stop hiding your true self. To embrace the real you and accept who you are. And declare to the world, with pride, I AM A WRITER.
Well done for that, it’s not easy and I hope you are coping with the repeated questions of So when will you get published? When can I buy it in a shop? How much have you made so far?’
It’s truly fun isn’t it? Why are you shaking your head at the screen (I can actually see you… Oh, yes I can… Anyway…) No, it isn’t fun, but mostly they do mean well. Even when they say, ‘Don’t you think it’s time you stopped wasting your time on this?’ Or ‘It’s only a hobby isn’t it?’ Honestly, they still only mean well. The thing is they really don’t understand. They may have known you all your life or just met you in the supermarket queue but the thing is you could spend a lifetime trying to explain but they will most likely never really get it.
The reason for this? (there are a lot of questions this week, I hope you are keeping up.) The reason is… drum roll please… they are not writers.
I can tell you are not blown away by that answer. Because you are most likely thinking that these people know you very well and they’ve probably witnessed the blood sweat, tears and coffee that you have poured into your writing, so surely they must understand – but trust me it takes a writer to understand another writer.
I think it is quite rare for somebody else in your family or close circle of friends to also be a writer. If there is one then you are both very lucky and need to stick together. The non-writers are lovely folk but they won’t be able to comprehend that you have made up people in your head that start acting up at 2am or start having a blazing row with the most brilliant dialogue when you really should be concentrating on something else. They may try to appreciate what’s going on but they won’t get the absolute need to write, the desire to get the words onto a page above all else and why sometimes you just can’t stop because if you do the moment will be lost.
At this point my daughter just shouted ‘Mummy!’ And I very nearly lost my thread – do you see what I mean!?
So what you need is to find similar people with the same affliction – yep, that would be other writers. Now these are odd creatures that frequently do not ‘come out’ as writers, so they may be hidden away keeping their writing top secret.
My advice is to go looking for some writers, they are out there. Once you have made contact you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. These people will not judge you, they will understand your sickness and they can help. They are or have been in your position, they understand the imaginary friends in your head, they can empathise with the insecurities, the doubt, the writer’s block and all the other issues that we each try to deal with on our own. They will connect with you on social media and even better sometimes face to face, when they can, and they will offer you support, a nod of understanding and a jolly kick up the backside when you need it – all very valuable stuff.
Local writing groups are good as these are often free or very low cost as they meet in pubs (always a bonus) or community facilities. Here’s a link to a great site for helping you find one – https://www.writers-online.co.uk/
Investigate specific writing societies for the genre you write for. In the UK there are many and here’s just a few – The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), The Historical Writers’ Association, The Crime Writers’ Association, The British Science Fiction Association, The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) and the list goes on. These societies are brilliant for those starting out, they offer advice, contacts and support for new writers. In the case of the RNA they offer a New Writers Scheme which I am very proud to part of and this enables you to attend their annual conference, various social events and have a full MS critique by a published author – all immensely helpful. Check specific websites for details and costs.
You will also find writers on locally run writing courses, Online writing courses, in fact on any sort of writing course there’s a good bet you’ll find some more people like you blinking as they enter the sunlight.
As you know writing is frequently a solitary business so these people often don’t see the light of day, so seek them out and make friends, you won’t regret it.
TOP TIP – look out for people purchasing Vitamin D supplements in chemists these are most likely writers…or vampires. Well, they are both interesting groups that people don’t understand.
Bella has just finished her first novel, Acting on Impulse, which earned her a runner-up place for the New Talent Award at the 2013 Festival of Romance. Every fortnight, Bella will be sharing her experiences and advice as a new author. She also has her own blog – www.bellaosborne.com