So picture this. I was curled up on my bed one night before bed reading Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush, (an all-time favourite), and as I finished the last page and turned to her author bio, I thought to myself, maybe I could do this. I could write novels. And that’s how it came about. Five minutes later, I had a wad of paper in my lap, a pen in my hand, and I started brainstorming.
Of course, things have evolved immensely since then. Now I write using my laptop because I find I can translate my thoughts onto the page more quickly when typing than writing. My brain tends to work faster than my fingers. And I no longer have to brainstorm, because it seems that when I’m busy working on one novel, my mind is already cooking up something new. It’s an endless routine, and quite annoying sometimes because it means I don’t always get things finished.
So yeah, I started my first novel that night. And no, it will never see the light of day because it was shockingly terrible. I think during the first year, I had to get all the rubbish stuff out of my system. Uncannily, most of my characters closely resembled other characters I’d read about, with one or two slyly altered letters in their names. Now I feel like I was merely projecting all of my fictional fantasies of what characters should have done, or could have done, into my own ‘story’. Then somewhere along that self-destructive path, I inevitably realised that writing novels, or any kind of creative piece for that matter, is about finding your own world, your own characters. You have to find a story that hasn’t been told yet and run with it. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
And it’s still a struggle. I still have to actively challenge myself to make my characters different, because so often you unwittingly project your own thoughts/opinions/feelings onto your character, or they are somehow reflected in your character’s actions. It is getting easier. And the more I succeed, the more original I find my stories to be.
Six years later, I spend every waking moment I can writing – when I’m not obsessing over a new book, (which is very rare). But I guess that can only help, because the more your read, the better your writing becomes. You start to build up an arsenal of vocabulary and knowledge of what makes people tick, what makes you rally behind a character, what kind of plot points get you hooked, what kind of message can be communicated through your work. The list is endless.
And I have to say, the ideas haven’t stopped flowing since I started all those years ago. It’s been like opening a floodgate, that’s the only way I can think to describe it. My ideas tend to come when I least expect them to, like my brain is constantly mulling things over in the background on auto-pilot. Oddly enough, the bath seems to be the best place for me to work out fiddly plot points or structural issues. And typically that’s because I don’t have a piece of paper handy to record everything I end up working out. Likewise, I tend to think of a lot of brilliant ideas and scenes when I’m on the verge of falling asleep. I’m thinking there’s logic in it somewhere – maybe the ideas occur because I’m so relaxed. Either way, I don’t mind. It keeps me on my toes.
I know my writing journey isn’t all that spectacular, and maybe not even that interesting, but I felt like sharing it. Each person’s writing evolution is different and therefore unique, and mine’s quite close to my heart. Looking back, I feel like I’ve grown so much, and I hope that continues, so that in another 7 years I’ll be able to see just how much further my writing has taken me. Until then I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, because that’s what makes me happy.