The Secrets of a Writer - Faith Hogan

The Secrets of a Real Writer…

Okay, so what’s the difference between a writer and a real writer? I’ve always maintained that if you write, every day and produce something that gives you or others entertainment or pleasure, then you are a writer. It’s an unspeakable force that lies within you and either you have it or you don’t. I don’t think there’s any measure of success that makes you more of a writer.

In saying that, what every writer wants most dearly is to be published – properly published and I suppose that’s when we writers get called authors, and that is a pretty nice feeling.  So what’s the difference, apart from grabbing the eye of a publisher? I’ve thought about this and how some things are so glaringly obvious to me now that once were not so clear…

If you want to be a writer your greatest enemy is not external forces, it is certainly not the competition, nor is it the cruel editor or agent who can’t see your genius. No, the real enemy to any would be writer is procrastination. There are many people who believe they have a novel in them, unfortunately, unless you sit down and write it, that’s exactly where it’s going to stay!

I’ve just written THE END on my fourth book, it’s my third time writing those six letters on this particular book. The truth is that sitting down and writing a book is so much more than firing words at a page, it’s about re-arranging, going back and choosing better words and then re-writing the whole damn thing again. So, another, not so well kept secret of the real writer, is that all the best writing is… re-writing.

Writing can be hard, yes, I love starting a new book, to be honest, mostly I’m flooded with ideas and I’m not even sure where half of them come from. All of that sounds marvellous, doesn’t it? But then, when you’ve committed to an idea, you’re three quarters in, with maybe seventy thousand words on the page and suddenly nothing fits, there’s no neat way to tie everything up and your body just cries to get out of that writing chair – yep, there are days when it’s rather like hard work.

On a much more positive note, the best form of relaxation for any writer is to clear out the palette. Take a walk in the woods, read a book that’s a million miles away from what you write, or binge watch the telly until you’re eyes are sore and your desk seems like it’s a refuge by comparison. Good writing is dependent on having an appetite and that means nourishing your imagination just as you would fill up your car with fuel or your body with food.

While you’ll read everywhere that it’s important to keep an eye on the market, I think you have to write what you enjoy. You don’t need to love all of your characters, you can feel intense dislike for some, but you need to feel something. Starting and finishing a book takes time, perseverance and discipline, without passion it’s going to be a slog, writing to a market or an audience will not keep you going to the very end. 

Most importantly,  be original – remember, there wasn’t exactly a huge market for teenage witches, boys with dresses or alcoholic London commuters until someone put pen to paper and gave us a story that captured our imaginations.

And finally, good luck – I think that plays a part in making every writer an author!

Faith x