Sunday, 15 February 2015

How do you write?

I know it’s been a good week when I have written my blog by Thursday and only have to edit it and post it on Sunday. I also have not one, but TWO new book ideas. How was your week?

I am always interested to learn how best-selling authors write, what their thought process is and what advice they give to aspiring authors like me. As you all know by now, I don’t do generic advice. We all are different and I LIKE DIFFERENT.


So how Do I write?

With a pen! And paper of course.


A book starts with a tiny little idea usually when I least expect it – in the middle of the night or driving or sitting outside school waiting for the boys. Driving has its obvious problems in scribbling down the idea! I’m always scared I will forget it before I get chance to put the idea down on paper – a curse of Menieres I’m afraid! In the very early days, outside school I have been known to write ideas on the back of Tesco receipts. Now I’m more organised and keep a notebook in the car and beside my bed.

Ideas can literally hit from anywhere – a conversation in a supermarket, a news story even a line from a singing I am belting out whilst alone in the car – yep, much easier alone than listening to the boys begging me to stop, whilst their ears start to bleed! Some of the ideas will never make print but some will absolutely develop into full blown stories. Two ideas this week have really caught my imagination – two at once! Like buses! I am equally excited about them so much so I’ve put other projects on hold to concentrate on these.

Synopsis and Characters

Once I have an idea, I scribble it down without character names using things like Man 1, Man 2, Woman 1. Girl 1 – you get the idea! This is because I can’t think of new names quickly enough to match the flow of the idea. Once I’ve written the draft synopsis, I go back and add the character names. By the time I have finished, I have a full written synopsis and character list. Then I can start my favourite part, writing the story.

The Draft

Drafts are rough and I mean VERY rough. I always write my drafts by hand. I write every day and sometimes all night too. The beauty of writing is being able to balance it between the boys’ needs although secretly I get very frustrated at having to break off for the school runs (shush don’t tell them!). I use the typing up of the rough draft as my first edit stage.

I can write anywhere – car, cafes, restaurants, at rugby training. I don’t mind noise, I switch off and get into the plot. In fact, people often complain I have ignored them but I simply haven’t heard them. Having tinnitus has helped me to zone out noises otherwise I would be completely insane by now, although I am getting there slowly but surely!

Once the draft is completed, I walk away from it for at least one month, maybe longer if other projects come along. Beyond the Past was written in nine months, it was my first. Beyond the Lies has taken longer due to other projects and marketing work. As I have become more comfortable with my style and my new life, and taken advice from greats like Stephen King, I do intend now to aim to complete the first draft in three months. There’s nothing like a challenge to motivate you.

Nothing is ever perfect first time – remember that. No one ever needs to see your first draft. However, I am keeping my very first drafts of all my novels so I can amuse myself in later life.


My books go through several edits before I even consider letting anyone see them, apart from my sister who has seen the manuscripts in their roughest form.

I am very self-critical and harsh. I am my harshest critic! At least four edits are done before submission:

-          General read through checking continuity and plot
-          Spelling/ grammar
-          Plot edit – add some bites of intrigue, delete insignificant parts
-          Fine detail edit
-          Final read through before submission
Only when I truly believe I have done the best I can do is it sent away. Oh, and I have my sister edit it too. 

I don’t care who you are and how critical you are, you still need a neutral pair of eyes.

Full details of my work can be found on my website

Links for Beyond the Past are on the top right hand side of this page.


How was your week?

This week, Wes went to London to an English Language conference. Armed with money, lunch and an anti-terrorist risk management strategy (I kid you not! Former Insurance Broker + neurotic mother + spy film addict = lecture!), he had an interesting time although the interest was not in the conference! Anyway he came back safe and sound and was not impressed by London at all! True Yorkshire Lad.

It was really heart-warming to hear how much a lovely, young lady is loving her new found interest in reading. She admitted she never realised how enjoyable it could be – a lesson for all of us.

This coming week is the half term break so I will work early, early mornings before the boys surface from their pits. I get more done in the school holidays. We play together but they have time to do their own thing and that is when I work. I am very lucky.

We are having a couple of days out in between jama days. We are going to see the Big 6 movie, I’ve heard it is excellent and then a day trip to the Bradford Industrial Museum. Lucas is currently studying Victorian Times at school so I thought I would take him as part of a holiday project we are doing. I haven’t been to the museum since I was at school, so I’m excited too. 

I hope you all survive half term, if it applies to you. Have a fabulous week and let me have your thoughts, I love receiving all of your comments. If you are thinking about having a go at writing – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

p.s. I've left the soapbox at home this weekend - so many news stories that have rattled me but best calm down first - so the PINK soap box may make its return next week.




  1. In the pre-computer days when paper was the only means, I found that because of the slowness of writing, relative to typing and if one typed fast enough - my mind stayed focused longer (relatively speaking again) on what I was putting on paper and it usually came up with an improvement rather quickly.

    1. Hi Jeffrey
      I write all mine by hand - I can't stay focused long enough on the computer - too many distractions! I do like to write anywhere so its easier to carry paper and pen. One day when I'm rich (haha) I am going to get a small computer notepad but I will probably still write on paper

  2. I write poetry by hand and prose on a computer - I have no idea why!

    1. LOL we do have some crazy habits don't we! Whatever works though is good for me.