And there was I thinking there was light at the end of the tunnel! The projects that had just recently immerged from enforced hibernation were about to be mothballed yet again!

The question of how to respond to this latest setback got me thinking of the many of us stuck at home and how to make best use of our heads and minds for the extra time on our hands. A difficult set of criteria to satisfy; some might even claim mutually exclusive! I beg to differ. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining and in this case it has created a wonderful opportunity; the chance to start putting pen to paper to write the novel that you’ve have always had inside you.

How do you make a start? you may ask. It’s easier than you think. Here are a few tips.

First, choose an original subject that you consider will make an interesting story. Open a file on the computer and give it a working title. Then, set out a one-page synopsis of the story. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds as it will inevitably change as the book evolves. Some writers spend a lot of time planning and doing research, others like me tend to get going straight away and allow the story to develop as they go along. It’s your choice.

Once you’ve made the decision to give it a go, the secret is to keep at it. But what about writer’s block?  I imagine it happens to everyone at some time or other. The difference is how you deal with it. For me, the best way is always to edit my last piece of work, which will usually throw up a multitude of new ideas and with them, inevitably, a new set of problems involving plot or character that have to be solved. I learned a long time ago that writing is a hard and often tortuous process, but as the saying goes: Where there’s no pain there’s no gain. Writing, for many including myself, has provided a sense of purpose and well-being that were missing from my previous career in commerce.

Once you’ve got something to show, the importance of getting yourself an editor to help you on your way cannot be overestimated; in my experience, this is far more useful than any creative writing class you may have contemplated joining. Another myth that needs dispelling is that writing is a reclusive occupation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Solitary, yes – but because the characters you have created are alive within you, you are never lonely!

Should you run out of patience pinning your hope on a traditional publisher, there’s now far less stigma attached to self-publishing, with many companies in the field that can turn your property into a reality for a reasonable cost. Just make sure you do your research.

The day you receive the first copies of your book off the press makes all your hard work worthwhile. So what now? The answer is that, provided you are not overly burdened with unhealthy expectations of conquering the world with your maiden novel, it’s probably time to think about embarking on a second book and another new adventure!

© John Steinberg 2020

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