Some thoughts on Getting Started: the hardest part of all.

In the early years I tied myself in knots trying to write books that would seem impressive or gain me respect, etc. Things only started to work when I relaxed and thought, actually, I’d like to write books that are entertaining and fun to read. I find everyday family life very funny at times so I decided to hone in on that, instead of thinking, Shit, I’ve got to be like Donna Tartt. Play to your strengths!

Make it your own private thing. Just start quietly and write something to entertain yourself that no one else is going to see. 500 words is fine. One scene that appeals to you, or a short chapter.

* It doesn’t have to be THE BEGINNING. The start of a book is the hardest to write I think. It nearly kills me every time. So you don’t have to start at the start. You could just start at ‘a good bit’.

* Read the brilliant On Writing by Stephen King (even if you’re not a fan of his fiction). Also years ago I devoured everything by Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones etc. I loved her so much I wanted to go to Taos, New Mexico and find her.

* I love Lisa Jewell’s books. I read that she was reading High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and thought, maybe it’s not impossible to write a novel after all. I think the gist is that she loved and admired his accessible writing – and rather than finding it intimidating (‘I could never do this’) she was inspired to try it herself. I love that attitude.

* Sometimes writing doesn’t have to be ‘for’ something. We’re all tremendously worried and unsure at the moment. Sometimes I find it helpful to have a notebook for writing down anything that comes into my head. Something might come of it, or it might not – it doesn’t matter either way. There’s something about the act of writing that can be calming and worry-soothing.

* Try not to angst too much. I have a sticker on my desk that reads IT’S ONLY A SILLY BOOK! I don’t mean to belittle it. It’s just a reminder to ‘get over myself’ and crack on.

Words Fiona Gibson. Join Fiona’s Facebook group The Write Place to learn more about the process of writing, whether you want to write poetry, prose, short stories, memoirs or novels. Fiona’s new book, When Life Gives You Lemons, is out now.