Writing Advice from a Complete Amateur

Hello friends! As most of you won’t have noticed, my blogging schedule has been pretty much non-existent for the past six weeks. And that’s because I’ve been working on my first drat of a very exciting new manuscript! I’ve managed to almost finish my first draft in this time, and I’m hoping to smash out the final few thousand words in the coming days. It’s been great to become immersed in the world I’m creating and get to know my characters, and I’ve found this time off really useful to get back into that creative mindset and take a step back from blogging for a bit.

But earlier this week, I realised that I actually really missed blogging, and talking to y’all! So today I’m announcing my official return to bi-weekly (and maybe even tri-weekly, if I’m organised) blogging! To celebrate, I’ll be sharing a bit about how and what I’m writing, my writing process, and my advice to all of you! Do keep in mind that I definitely don’t consider myself a writing professional and that the writing process varies for everyone.

Without further ado, let me share my somewhat dubious words of wisdom with y’all!

How did you come up with the idea, Sarah?

So I came up with my latest idea for a novel when I was at work, doing the mind-numbing task of making choc tops (which, if you don’t know, is ice cream in a cone, coated with chocolate on the top). I’d been thinking about an idea I’d come up with a couple of months ago, but there wasn’t anything about that idea that made me want to sit down and write.

When you come up with the right idea, you just know it. For me, that meant doing a happy dance in the attic of the cinema, surrounded by half-dipped ice creams, and then talking aloud to myself about who the characters in my novel would be and where it would be set and what would actually happen. All it took to lead to this point was to ask myself what I’m passionate about and what I would want to read. At the end of the day, if you’re writing something that you wouldn’t want to read, you’re doing it wrong. The first reader of your novel is yourself, and chances are that if you’re not enjoying writing it, then readers won’t enjoy reading it.

Over the next three days, I formed the main characters in my novel, wrote our a rough chapter break-down and character arcs, and set a word count goal of 75k. For the following week, I was consumed by this new idea and my characters and all the possibilities this manuscript would hold. So much so that I couldn’t listen to audiobooks or music or even read, because all I wanted to do was be with these characters I’d created.

No, I’m not mad. I’m just a writer.

What’s your writing schedule like, Sarah?

If you follow me on Twitter, which you, of course, totally should — @SarahRHatch — you’ll know that I made it my goal to write 50,000 words last month. Never in my life had I even come remotely close to writing that much in such a short amount of time. But I had an idea I loved and a story I wanted to start writing, so I decided that if I was going to get it done, I had to push myself. My goal was one that was simultaneously unrealistic and ambitious, but I was determined to make it. So much so that I wrote 20k in the first week.

Okay, so I’m no Cait (y’know, Paper Fury? The amazing and somewhat inhuman blogger / writer that can smash out 30k in a single day?), but 20k in a week was definitely something to be proud of for me. But what I realised during this writing exercise is that if you’re pushing yourself to write 50k in a month, along with attending university and three part-time jobs, you don’t really have the luxury of a writing schedule.

My ideal writing schedule would be to wake up at 8am, go for a brisk walk and pick up some coffee, then brainstorm the day’s writing over smashed avo, and then lock myself in my office and not return to the outside world for five hours. But unfortunately, life tends to get in the way. I started the month by waking up every day at 6am to smash out 1k before breakfast, but I’m not a morning person and that type of a schedule simply wasn’t sustainable.

So I settled for writing on trams and trains, between classes and when I had a few hours at home, and also some before bed. You’d be surprised how much even those short bursts of writing could add up. So yes, I don’t really have a set writing schedule. But the most important thing I learned over the course of the past month and a half is that if you’re really passionate about being a writer, you’ll make time for it.

It doesn’t matter how much you write a day, or a week, if you write — congratulations! You’re a writer.

How do you overcome writer’s block, Sarah?

Okay, don’t hate me but… I don’t get writer’s block. I know writing is different for each person, and for a lot of people, writer’s block is a very real and difficult thing to get through. What’s helped me avoid it so far is, first of all, reminding myself that I’m writing for fun. I’m not a professional writer or a full-time author, so I don’t have the threats of deadlines or anything looming over my head. I’m just writing for myself — and in hope of being published one day, of course. If you can try and remember that this is something that you want to do, I feel like that makes things a lot simpler.

Then there are times when I’m staring at my screen for twenty minutes, unsure with how I want to proceed with a scene, or if I even want to be writing this particular scene. In those situations, I firstly ask myself if it’s integral to the narrative. If so, it’s possible that I’m not in the right mood or mindset to be writing that part at the moment, which is fine! In those cases, I just skip ahead a little and start on the next chapter, or go back and add to a previous scene that needs more padding. Any writing is progress, even if you don’t write using a strict linear progression.

And finally, there are some days when I just don’t want to write. Which is fine too. We all need time off occasionally, and needing a day, or a week, away from your writing isn’t the end of the world. It’s my motto that if I’m not in the mood for writing, then pushing myself to do so would only make me hate myself, and, in turn, my work. Writing is something I never want to fall out of love with, so giving myself time off when I need it is integral. If you need a break, take it! Watch a movie. Listen to a podcast. Go on an adventure. One of the most important aspects of being an artist is consuming other art. That’s what makes us better.

So what is your novel even about, Sarah? And when will it be published?

Well, I don’t want to give too much away because SPOILERS — but I call it a Doctor Who fanfic. I mean, that statement is completely false, but it is inspired by the characters and themes of Doctor Who. I call it a fanfic because that reminds me that this project shouldn’t be taken too seriously and that the main point of writing, for me, is to have fun! All I can say is that it’s a contemporary novel set in New York City with a diverse range of characters, queer romance, science, stargazing, and is perfect for fans of Doctor Who, despite there being no actual aliens or time-travel in my story.

I’ve had so much fun writing this story and I can’t wait to finish it off next week. From there, I’m going to spend some time editing it, and then hopefully write up a query letter before the end of the year. I’m really excited about this new manuscript and I’ve loved the journey so far.

Let's Talk

How have you been while I’ve been on my semi-hiatus? Are you writing anything at the moment? Is there anything else you’d like to know about my writing process or my WIP? Let’s talk writing!

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Graphics used in header sourced from Winged Graphics and OpiaDesigns.

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10 thoughts on “Writing Advice from a Complete Amateur

  1. I’m currently revision my first book for the… five time? Well, anyway I was already writing the second one of the series but I didn’t feel fine with the first and I was costantly followed by doubts. So I had to stop and go back to the first.
    My writing schedule is messy. With two blogs, reading, being a slow writer plus the upcoming academy – from Monday to Friday every morning until lunch time – I have the night… but sometimes I arrive at night completely tired and wasted.

    • Wow, it’s so good that you’re taking the time to perfect it though! I’ve been guilty of just completely abandoning projects when the editing gets too hard – BUT HOPEFULLY NOT THIS TIME! I feel you with the messy writing schedule 😅 Best of luck with all your writing in the future! 💕

  2. THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. ❤ I love reading about writers actually really enjoying what they do! I mean, we all complain a lot and it's fun.😂 But writing is also freaking amazing?! I love that feeling when I just want to write and honestly nothing else is as interesting as exploring my characters. 😍 It doesn’t happen all the time but I love it when it does!!

    And also I laaaaughed. Yes I’m inhuman.😂But honestly you’re AMAZING for writing consistently over a month!! I can’t even write for longer than 5 days so like…consistency = alien concept for me haha.

    CONGRATS SO MUCH on all your writing and I’m so glad you had fun with this! 😀

    • THANK YOU! 💜 Writing IS amazing. I get so happy seeing other people talk about their writing and having discussions with other people about writing. It’s the best 🙌🏼

      HAHA YES, YOU ARE. But I guess we just have very different writing styles! Seriously admire your speed though 😍

      Eek thank you! I’ve had so much fun with it already, and I can’t wait to get onto the next phase 💕

  3. OH WOW. This seems so interesting!
    All the best and congratulations! ❤
    I've always thought of writing something like that, but then I;m just never able to complete it. xD
    Therefore, just the poetry and write ups.! xD
    Your posts seems pretty exciting!
    Good Luck! ❤

  4. 20k is a week is amazing! I have the same problem where I can’t find the space in the day to make a writing schedule because uni is busy enough as it is 😕 Super impressed that you’ve managed to do it because I certainly haven’t!

  5. Congrats on your progress! I’m pretty bad with converting my thoughts into words, so I find it amazing that you managed to write 20k words in one week 👏🏽. Also, I love that your story was inspired by Doctor Who 😮. Keep up the work 😊.

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