Tips on Writing Your First Novel/Feature & Following the Dream!

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to speak with some great women writers. I always ask them for their advice to aspiring writers and below are some of their answers. If you click on the names you’ll be taken through to the original interviews where there is a wealth of information.

Sarah Sheridan:

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of embarking on a writing career?
It is a massively competitive and difficult field and right now it’s in a state of flux. You need to be pragmatic, work hard and be open-minded in your career choices. It’s also a great job!

Morag Joss:

What has been the best piece of advice you have been given re writing?
To be an artist of any sort, one has to be stubborn, to have a very strong inner compass. It’s the hardest thing and no one can teach you. You have to know yourself.   (Donna Tartt)

And best piece of advice about life in general?
Never waste a talent. Look after what you’ve got.

Lynn Shepherd:

What advice would you give to any aspiring writers reading this?
Never give up. I had two and a half unpublished novels in my drawer before I got my break, so don’t get disheartened. And try to share what you write with people whose opinions might be helpful. You’re going to get a lot of feedback, both before publication and then from critics – it’s a good idea to get used to that as early as you can! And anyway, other people’s thoughts can help you improve your work.

Suzy Greaves:

We have many aspiring authors reading the blog. How did you go about getting your first book published and what advice would you give?
Never give up! I was commissioned to write my first book by a very posh publisher – with a glass lift that went up and down outside the building. I thought all my dreams had come true when I got my book deal with a lovely big advance. I told everyone I knew and his dog. I was writing it with another life coach and it took us 6 months to write but we really struggled writing something coherent. When we submitted the manuscript, it was rejected – and they told us to pay back the advance, which I’d spent. It was truly humiliating. I swore I would never write another word ever again. But 4 weeks later, another publisher contacted me after seeing an article I’d written – and I wrote the book that launched my business  – Making The Big Leap.

Joan Smith:

When you went off to University were you already fixed on journalism as a career?
No but I knew I’d do something public and political. I knew I was going to write fiction, which I have, but I also assumed it was my job to change the world. That’s how I ended up doing so much work on violence against women – I want the world to be a safer place for us all.

How did you get your first break in journalism? Did you have any kind of plan?
Not exactly. I had no contacts and a degree in Latin, so I thought I’d better start writing to local papers. I was offered a job in Blackpool, which is where my career started.

Christine Webber:

What prompted you to write Too Young to Get Old? How easy was it to get your first book published?
My first book was a novel and I entered it into a competition run by Cosmopolitan magazine to champion new writers. I didn’t win, but my book did get shortlisted and was then read by someone at Century Hutchinson and was eventually published.  This was a huge thrill, I can tell you. I then started writing non-fiction.

I married my second husband, Dr David Delvin, in 1988. He is a sex specialist and I got interested in his work. He’d already published masses of books, including The Book of Love which was an absolute classic and  helped generations of couples to have a happier love life. Together, we wrote The Big “O” which did quite well, and then – after I’d trained for four years to get various psychotherapy qualifications – I started writing books on happiness and self-esteem as well as about relationships.

Too Young to Get Old was a completely different venture. I wanted to write something for the sassy women that we female baby boomers are. And I wanted to put together in one book lots of information about all the things we need to know if the next few decades are going to be vibrant, solvent and healthy ones. I found it quite a hard concept to sell to people. But my lovely agent, Rowan Lawton, pitched it to Piatkus, who are a great publisher. And I’ve been very happy with what they did with it. It’s going into a second edition in February.

I hope at least one of our Inspirational Women has inspired you to follow your own dreams of writing. It’s never too late. One of my favourite authors, Mary Wesley published her first adult book when she was 71! Go on, get going. It’s only too late if you don’t start now…

RenewYou is my one day course for women which has helped hundreds of women find their passion and follow their dream. My dream is to get it out to one million women! Can you help? Details are here.


Posted on August 13th, 2014 by

5 Responses to “Tips on Writing Your First Novel/Feature & Following the Dream!”

  1. Great post Jane, I will go on and read the full interviews.

    I’ve always been inspired by the late Doris Lessing and would recommend the introduction to the Golden Notebook which gives wonderful insights into the relationship between the writer and the reader of a book and the factors that influence this.

    • Jane says:

      Thanks Felicity. I’ve had a lot of email replies to this post too. It obviously struck a chord. Many thanks for the info for readers re Doris Lessing, too.

  2. I love Morag’s comment, about not wasting the talent you have. Some really helpful advice here.

  3. Alison Terry says:

    I have wanted to write ever since I was 14.
    I read somewhere that its a good idea to read as much as you can, and absorb language, ideas, images, and use all your senses.
    RenewYou sparked a flame for me, and one day I will write!

  4. Heart -warming and deeply motivational! Don’t waste a talent, from Morag Joss is a particularly good reason to stick at it. The thought of a life without writing is what keeps me going on the tough days.

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