I’m excited to hand my blog over to historical fiction author, Rachel Brimble today for her views on whether writing gets easier the more you write. As an unpublished author with one novel written and another in progress, I can’t wait to find out the answer.
Does It Get Easier The More Books You Write?!by Rachel Brimble
I recently attended a local book fair where I was selling my books as well as advertising my First Chapter Critique service (https://rachelbrimble.com/first-chapter-critique-service/). There was a nice level of interest in my books, with many lovely historical readers complimenting my book covers or asking questions about my Edwardian and Victorian romance series. Yet, the most frequently asked questions asked were 1) “How did you start writing?” and 2) “Does writing get easier the more books you write?”
I love that so many readers dream of becoming writers as I was one of them for so many years and it seems the advent of phones, iPads and Netflix has not lessened peoples’ love of a good novel!
So, let me answer these questions…
I started writing because it was something that I had wanted to do ever since reading Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series, around the age of eight or nine. On and off through the years, I would write articles or short stories and send them to magazines and online story websites. After some success, I was encouraged enough to write a novel. So, when my youngest daughter started school full-time, I got serious about publication!
After a few rejections from other publishers, the book was accepted by The Wild Rose Press in 2007. I have been lucky enough to have at least two books a year published ever since.
Question number 2…
Unfortunately no, writing does NOT get easier the more books you write – I wish I could say differently, but I would be lying!
Writing is hard work. It is something that takes discipline and commitment. It means walking around with the skin of a rhino and smiling through the disappointments and long, long, LONG waits for publishers and agents to get back to you. It is sitting your butt in the chair in front of a blank screen, finding the words to fill it and then repeating the process 360 plus times until you have a finished novel.
Writing is HARD!
BUT…it is also the most rewarding vocation in the world (notice I say vocation, not job – this has to be the pursuit of your heart’s calling, my loves!) and it is something that gives bucketloads of satisfaction whenever an author receives a book contract, a great review, their box of paperbacks in the mail or, of course, a royalty cheque…
If you are an aspiring writer with a burning desire to write a romance or women’s fiction novel but unsure where to start, then feel free to check out my First Chapter Critique service (https://rachelbrimble.com/first-chapter-critique-service/) or email me at email@example.com with any questions about you might have about the service. I am a multi-published, bestselling romance author on a mission to help other romance writers achieve their publishing dreams! So many other writers helped me when I started out, I love paying it forward.
If, on the other hand, you are a reader rather than a writer, why not check out my latest series? If you like the Edwardian era The Shop Girl series will be for you or, if you’re more of a Victorian lady, check out the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy.
Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 29 novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). Her latest novel, Victoria & Violet is the first book in her new Royal Maids series with the Wild Rose Press and releases 17th October 2022.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.
Long time since we’ve had a catch up and it’s July already. I swear time is speeding up or is this normal once you get over 40? It feels like it should be in the depths of February not in the summer past Solstice.
So what’s been happening? Personally, a lot but writing wise not so much. I’m plodding on with my Silver Swan novel and looking for a home for my witches of Whitby novel, A Blend of Magic.
With the witches of Whitby in mind, they have their own book review blog and Instagram account. Amber and Willow became fed up of my procrastination at telling their stories so they’ve gone rogue. The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf will showcase their favourite books with a fantasy or paranormal leaning, give small insights into their lives and hopefully, share interviews from visiting authors, bloggers or anyone else they fancy talking to who stumble into Black Cat Alley.
Rosa, the only non-supernatural member of staff doesn’t want to be left out and as a fan of romance novels, she will periodically choose a book from her Rosa’s box of Romances to chat about.
To give myself a final kick over the finish line of my second draft of the Silver Swans, I’ve joined Camp NanoWriMo or as the aim is to finish a novel NaNoFinMo. This is much needed as I have agents and publisher waiting for the finished product – maybe this is why procrastination is rife, once it’s out there the fear of rejection is unleashed. The high of wow someone in the industry want to read it crashes into full blown imposter syndrome.
I’ve just read Stop Worrying, Start Writing by Sarah Painter which has helped with facing my writing demons and self-doubt but it still creeps in when faced with an unformed chapter.
Time to stop procrastinating and let the fun commence.
Welcome to my first book review on the topic of writing this year – Write It All Down How to put your life on the page by Cathy Rentzenbrink. I’ve never considered writing a memoir but the blurb of this book caught my eye and I wanted to know more.
Book Review: Write It All Down by Cathy Rentzenbrink
Title: Write it all down How to put your life on the page
Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink
Publisher: bluebird books for life
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir writing
Release Date: 6th Jan 2022
Why do we want to write and what stops us? How does the urge to express ourselves fight with the worry that no-one will care or that we will get in trouble? How do we identify and overcome everything that gets in our way so we can start making work?
Sunday Times bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink shows you how to tackle all this and more in Write It All Down, a guide to putting your life on the page. This is a kind, encouraging and stimulating book that explores the nature of memoir writing and offers helpful guidance on how to write your life on paper. Rentzenbrink will help you to discover the pleasure and solace to be found in writing; the profound satisfaction of wrestling a story onto a page and seeing the events of your life transformed through the experience of writing the self.
Perfect for both seasoned writers as well as writing amateurs and everyone in between, this helpful handbook will steer you through the philosophical and practical challenges of writing the self. Intertwined with reflections, anecdotes and exercises from successful writers such as Dolly Alderton, Matt Haig, Kit de Waal, Sathnam Sanghera and Maggie O’Farrell, Write It All Down is at once an intimate and enjoyable narrative and an invitation to share your story.
Talking points and feature ideas:
• ‘How writing changed my life’ – Cathy’s personal story
• Top 5 tips on how to write your own story
• How to use this book for your own wellbeing
• Writing in a digital world: the importance of storytelling
• New Year’s Resolutions – why you shouldn’t diet, but learn something new instead
• Therapy – both Cathy’s personal experiences, and how to use writing as therapy
The introduction begins with the words – Dear Writer, I am so pleased to meet you. Welcome. – and that is how I felt the instant I began reading. I felt as if Cathy had welcomed me into her writing world and she was giving me a personal lesson in writing. Write It All Down is a highly accessible read and can be read from the beginning to the end like I did or dipped into.
I’ve read a several how to write books now and attended tutorials and conferences on the subject but this book contained fresh hints and viewpoints on the subject. The idea of writing about my life is slightly horrifying but this book isn’t just about writing to be published it’s about exploring yourself and tapping into your life and being creative.
It covers many aspects that are relevant to all types of writing including tackling first drafts, mindset, edits in all their forms and what happens when the words don’t flow. I came away from reading this uplifted, inspired and less daunted on writing my current project. I also have pages of thoughts on my own life that I know I can explore in the future.
Would I recommend?
Yes. I’d recommend this not just for those who are considering writing a memoir but for all writers at the beginning of their journey or stuck in a rut. The friendly tone, simple exercises, and explanations provide a safe space to explore ideas, and inspire creativity. It gives a nudge towards facing the fear that can block writing.
Write It All Down is a welcome addition to my forever reference shelf and will reread parts in the future when I need a positive reminder that I can write and the reasons behind my motivation to do so.
Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of the Sunday Times best-seller The Last Act of Love and of A Manual for Heartache, Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books and Everyone is Still Alive. It took her twenty years to wrestle her own life story on the page and she loves to use what she has learnt about the profound nature of writing the self in the service of others. Cathy has taught for Arvon, Curtis Brown Creative, at Falmouth University and at festivals and in prisons, and welcomes anyone, no matter what their experience, education, background or story. She believes that everyone’s life would be improved by picking up a pen and is at her happiest when encouraging her students to have the courage to delve into themselves and see the magic that will start to happen on the page.
Hello November, one of my favourite times of year, not only because of the lingering high from Halloween and hurtling towards the festive feel of Christmas but it’s time for NaNoWriMo. The atmosphere of the writing community rises and there is always an explosion of support to keep people writing so it’s always hard not to get involved. Despite my success in 2018, the full challenge is out of my reach like many spoonie writers. The pressure of 1666 words a day is crippling and even with naps, it triggers flares and guilt. So I belong to the NaNoWriMo tribe of rebels and we all have our own ways of rebelling. I thought I’d share some things that have helped me.
My tipsto being a NaNoWriMo rebel
1. The key thing of rebelling is to make up your own target. I’ve chosen 15,000 words but know it maybe too ambitious – I’ve already lost days to migraines and exhaustion but if I manage it, my first rough draft about my ballet quartet will be finished and that will be the ultimate achievement. Can I eek my manuscript of 66,660 words out to stumble over the 75,000 mark? Watch this space!
The fantastic author and co-founder of the Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illness (ACCI) group Claire Wade has developed one of the best rebel goals for author’s with limited energy, chronic illness or disability – the #PostItNaNo challenge. Aiming to write at least a Post-it note a day can be a huge step in the development of a story or character, and the dopamine rush of making progress without the pressure of hundred’s of words is a good inspiration for the next day.
2. Find your tribe, if you have fellow writers to connect with it and share ideas, good news and disappointments it makes the writing process easier and more fun
3. Join in with the community on social media or the NaNoWriMo site. The podcasts, zooms and general chitchat inspires more writing and determination to keep going.
4. Find someone to do sprints with. Writing sprints whether they last thirty minutes or an hour have become my friend. I’m lucky to have friends in the RNA to join forces with, but I have also discovered The Writer’s Hour which follows Neil Gaiman’s idea of ‘do nothing or write’. You can hop on to zoom at predetermined times during the day for an hour of writing and accountability. It’s a friendly group and best of all, they start with a writing related quote to give you a kick in the right direction. Click here for more information. Maybe I’ll see you there.
5. Rewards for achieving small goals even a sticker or favourite hot chocolate are a great motivator. Books as rewards are even better.
5. Don’t fall into the guilt trap. It zaps creativity. Even a couple of words a day is a step closer to your goal. I find this hard to do because guilt and imposter syndrome seem to be my default thoughts when faced with an empty page or rough rough draft of a scene.
6. Just enjoy the writing progress and remember why you’re doing it. Writing isn’t just about word count. It involves so much more – thinking time to grasp the idea you want to focus on and let it brew while doing other things (okay this could be classed as procrastination but if the story and characters are strong enough the mind will be working in the background without you realising it) and plotting on post its, and research. Everything counts. And the variety of actions helps keep the spark and fun alive.
7. If it all grinds to a halt and target isn’t achieved, take what you have done and celebrate. It’s progress and still deserve a treat.
However you’re doing NaNoWriMo good luck, keep going and happy writing.
As you are aware September is dystonia awareness month which makes having my next author to meet on my blog more exciting. Karl Kiddy is a writer and dystonia advocate who published Warriors of Dystonia which I’m proud to have my story so far in.
Meet The Author: Karl Kiddy
A huge welcome, Karl. Please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Karl and I am a Welshman living in Belfast, with my two amazing daughters, my wife and a cat named Willow. I have been an artist since I was a teenager and have dabbled in everything from Pyrography (burning pictures into pieces of wood), to photography, blogging, video editing and production, to writing, and dipping in and out of podcasting. I’m a heavy metal music fan, as well as having a passion for horror movies and pretty much anything in that genre when it comes to comics and books too. In my spare time, I as the whole reading and project thing, I am a gamer, and would play a lot of Xbox, I also love cooking and would do just about all of the cooking for myself and my ladies. I have self-published five books, with Warriors of Dystonia being my most recent book and project. Only one of my other books have been written under my name, with the rest of them, as well as many of my other projects, being done under a pseudonym due to the shamefully juvenile humour that I use throughout. About 14 years ago my journey with Dystonia began.
Q. The book released is a compilation of the stories of people with dystonia, what made you decide to raise awareness to this little known condition?
It’s difficult to really narrow this down as I believe that Warriors of Dystonia had been bubbling under the surface for a long time. Having dystonia myself and knowing that due to very little being known or understood about the disorder I had been plunged into a few scenarios where I struggled and I was left feeling humiliated. A combination of this and having to say that I had Parkinson’s for people to consider my limitations made me think, “enough is enough.” I want to be able to live in a world where we can say, “I have dystonia,” and for people outside of our community to have some sort of an idea of what it is that we are talking about. I knew that there was no way I would be alone with wanting this and so I thought about using one of my favourite mediums, writing!
So, my goal was to make a book where fellow people who have dystonia can see they are not alone and that they can handover to a person and say, “this is my world!”
Q How easy was it to get people together to share their experiences and bring it all together.
As a whole, it was hard work. I wanted the book to feel like you were having a conversation with the person or perhaps you were sitting in on a chat that they were having. No matter what anyone tells you, we are a nosy bunch us humans, and we are naturally very interested in the ins and outs of the lives of others. I’d originally been thinking of ways of directing the content that was share with me, but I am glad I gave everyone free reign now! Getting people to share their stories was the easy part. I won’t go into too much, as I will probably use the same methods again, but it snowballed to a point where I had to close the original submission date three months earlier than I planned. At that point, I had so many and at that point the book was four hundred pages! The hard part was the admin behind the scenes. I needed to set up a form which logged the names and details of everyone who contacted me either sharing their story or offering to share a story. The editing of the book was difficult. I had a file which was a mass of various length stories, terms, medications and treatments that I had never heard of and I then had to work out how I was going to compile it. This was before I even started to then format the thing!
Q. You are an active campaigner to raise awareness of dystonia, how do you fit it in with other aspects of your life?
Anyone who knows me will know that when I have my heart set on something I will do it. Whether it is work related or a new artistic venture I want to try, if I want to give it a go then nothing will stop me. Then, once I have set my mind on it, I will invest everything in it. For as long as I can remember, I have never really slept for long and so I work on Warriors of Dystonia in the early hours of the morning. It would also be these early hours that I would squeeze in some of my other passions too. By the time my girls get up for school I have probably already got a few hours of my actually job done, an hour on the Warriors of Dystonia or perhaps I have been out and taken photographs of the lovely sunrise. As I start my job so early, I often have a bit of time in the afternoons to work on my projects too. Then there’s the weekends, where I will still be getting up and out of bed at some ungodly hour of the morning!
Q. Lots of stories must have been overwhelming to hear, do you have a support network around you?
Yes, absolutely. I have to be honest, when I knuckled down and began to really read the stories back-to-back I was struggling at times. Reading the book is different and there’s a bit of a barrier or distance between the reader and the storyteller. I was interacting directly with every single person in the book. Many of which we were in back-and-forth correspondence. Going through the story and knowing that person and talking with them was a very different experience. However, with that being said, it also made me so proud to be able to do this. There were a few people who I spoke with who have dystonia so bad that this book was their first opportunity to tell the world what it was that they were battling and dealing with every single day. The sheer determination was inspiring.
I’ve always been very open with my feelings, so have no problems of just saying, “I am having a crappy day.” You know, that feeling when you wake in the morning and you think to yourself, “I don’t know why, but it’s going to be one of those days.” I just warn everyone. That way, it isn’t a great shock to anyone if I am not my self.
I have a great support network in my wife and daughters. Just having a cuddle from them or listening to their stories about their little lives is priceless. I love going for walks, so I would often go for a long walk with my wife and talk at her about whatever it is that is going around in my head at that point.
Q. Have you found this project has impacted your life more than you expected?
Yes, definitely. I have made so many new friends and my faith in humanity has been restored thanks to the dystonia community being full to the brim with some of the most lovely and sincere people I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with. Absolute warriors and so inspirational! From the very start of working on the book, I was exposed to a whole world of forms of dystonia that I had not only not heard of, but wouldn’t have ever stumbled across if it hadn’t been for the work I was doing. It showed me that dystonia awareness is not only vitally important outside of the dystonia community, but within it too. Finally, I guess what I almost selfishly planned to be a one-and-done in regard to this project has lead to me wanting to champion and awareness as much as I can whenever I can. Warriors of Dystonia continues to grow, and I am proud to have started it.
Q. You are also a self-published author, can you say a bit about this or is it top secret?
Being a complete control freak means that the self-publish route suits me just perfectly. Whenever I have written a book, the formatting, layout, cover art and pretty much every other aesthetic as well as the writing must look exactly how I want. There’s a method and plan behind my madness! The downside is that you discover that writing a book is easy, it’s the getting it out there into the public eye that is difficult. Although it would be fantastic to see Warriors of Dystonia in books shops, the word Dystonia isn’t something that you just stumble across, so I would expect that most people who are looking for a book about dystonia will stumble across my book when scouring the internet.
Anyone going down the self published-route needs to be prepared to have a plan of how they will release their masterpiece onto the world, and this needs to begin before the date you plan of unleashing it. You need to drum up interest, use all of the tools the internet gives you, put yourself out there so that people get to know you and then talk to your audience. Warriors of Dystonia the book didn’t exist in January 2020, but by the time it was released, everyone who had been following the project knew exactly what it was that I was putting together, when it was coming out and knew a lot about me. Once the book is released, you must keep up that momentum. This is where I struggle, because I keep thinking that any time that I am investing in marketing could be time spent writing or working on a new project!
Q. What is your next project?
I have been writing under a pseudonym for many years and my plan is to continue something I started many years ago under that alias. When it comes to writing, my passion is in surreal, off-the-wall comedy and horror. As well as that, I have drafted a plan for a podcast that I will be hopefully starting this year, it will be another one-man-show, and will be a mix of reviews, random stories of the week and probably a lot of swearing.
These are regular questions I ask everyone, but you may want to skip some if you don’t want to discuss your other books.
Q. What is your favourite book?
The Pilo Family Circus and the Skulduggery Pleasant Series. Pilo Family Circus is one of the most unique horror stories I have ever read.
Q. Who is your favourite author?
Derek Landy, bit that’s because I absolutely love the Skulduggery books.
Q. Is your writing influenced by the books you have read?
I would say not really. My writing is a messy amalgamation of influence from films, comics, music, with a splash of books. One of my biggest influences is life and the characters I meet along the way.
Q. Where is your favourite place to read or write?
I enjoy reading in my living room with movie soundtracks or instrumental music playing in the background. If I have music on that has lyrics my brain tends to start drawing me to the music.
Q. When did you begin writing and how did being published come about?
I have been writing ever since I was a young teen, but I really got into it after I wrote a controversial short story about my secondary school, a killer bear and the carnage that ensued when that bear got to the school. It was over-the-top, completely inappropriate comedy mixed with horror; a printout of the story started to circulate around my school and I became a legend! I absolutely loved hearing about how funny people found the story. Years later, at university, I wrote a series of stories about my life and once again I found it fantastic to see people reading my work in the workshops and laughing. In 2006 I completed Nanowrimo and at the end of it I put the transcript into a book. Seeing an actual physical copy of the story in this way made me want to put more out! I then created my first writing alter ego and haven’t looked back.
Q. If you have a genre you write, how did you begin writing in this style?
I love writing comedy that is mixed with horror, occult and it always tends to be quite surreal and totally unpredictable. Some of my inspirations would be the unpredictable comedy of Reeves and Mortimer, the surrealness of Monty Python and the crude, horror-tinged shock tactics of League of Gentlemen. I also love to listen to paranormal and conspiracy podcasts too as they offer a writer such a diverse pallet of characters and stories!
Thank you so much for joining me for a natter and all you do for the dystonia community. More information on Karl’s book follows.
Warriors of Dystonia by Karl Kiddy
“Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder behind essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease, yet hardly anyone has heard of it. Little is known about the condition or what causes it, but what is certain is that it can affect anyone at any age, at any time, any part of the body and has no cure. Whether directly having dystonia or caring for someone who has it, Warriors of Dystonia shares the candid, emotional journeys and experiences of people from all over the world whose lives are affected by this chronic neurological condition.”
Thank you again Karl for joining me and good luck in your next project.
An update on my challenge for Dystonia Around the World, migraines and dystonia attacks have meant I’m slower than normal but I’m now on book 5 of my readathon to raise awareness and fundraise for dystonia UK. I will be updating my page here