I am often asked about my writing process. What routines and rituals do I have?
I was once asked if I read soup cans like some authors do! I always read and answer my emails before starting to write. That is my ‘ritual’! It’s a lot better than reading soup cans and hopefully achieves more!
But the truth is despite writing two books a year I am much less routine than I used to be. When I first started writing and was trying to get published, I was still working as a full time teacher. I was too tired to write at the end of the day so I used to get up very early, (not quite as early as my wife who was the local post lady, but soon after), and write several hundred words before I went to school. This way I wrote a book a year, they all got rejected of course but in that time I was honing my craft developing perseverance and determination and gaining experience in coping with rejection.
When the Americans bought my books, I was able to stop teaching and become a full time writer. The Spook’s Battle was the first book I wrote without the constraints of another demanding job and as a consequence it is my favourite book. I also like it because I introduced Grimalkin and the Fiend which provided me with a story arc for the rest of the series. Of course once you are published you are then required to deliver a book on time on a specific date, so while there are obvious benefits to being published you lose some of your freedom to write at your own pace and you may begin to feel the pressures of having deadlines. Then of course there is the editing and the rewrites …
I make sure I write each day, even when I am on tour and on holiday, so I can keep the momentum going and not lose the thread of my story telling. But I don’t always have a huge word output, I get some of my best ideas when I am not even sitting at my desk but pacing about, going for a walk, sitting on a train or in a café . I am often accused by people that know me, of not listening to them, but I think it is because I am always thinking about my writing and there is an ongoing narrative in my head.
I don’t get writers block so much these days but when I do, I will go for a walk or sometimes I use spider diagrams. Each leg represents a possible plot direction so I use the best leg I can find!
I do have a study where I write at home, but now with a laptop I can write anywhere. During summer on one of our rare summer days, I might even take pen to paper and sit outside in the sun.
Another question I am frequently asked is how to get published. Of course there are no guarantees and it is hard to get published but there is a blog on this site where I offer some suggestions that may help you along the way.