Carmel Harrington shares advice on how to get that novel out of your head and down on paper.
If I had a euro for every time someone said to me, I want to write a book, I’d be a wealthy woman! I always encourage these people to go ahead, start that story. Occasionally they do, but more often than not, no matter the good intention, the great story in their head does not get transcribed to paper. And isn’t that such a pity? I was that soldier. I wore that t-shirt. For the longest time, all I did was dream about being a writer. Eventually, after decades of dreaming of writing, I started.
Here are some of my top tips, that may help you in your writing journey.
1. Just write
Stop dreaming about writing that novel. Just sit down, in front of your computer and write. Don’t think about the words, just open your mind and let them flow.
2. Don’t edit as you go along
Get your first draft written in its entirety before you start editing. If you edit as you go along, you may never get beyond the first three chapters. There are times in life when it’s essential to look back, in order to move forward. The first draft is not one of them. Each day, re-read the last sentence you wrote and use that as your starting point.
3. Edit, edit, then edit some more
Once you have completed your first draft and celebrated the achievement (please do celebrate, it’s a huge deal!), sit down and read back your work. Take notes and then start your first rewrite. Repeat this process twice. Trust me, three times is the charm.
4. You need to be disciplined
Like everything in life, it takes discipline to achieve results. To lose weight, get fit, learn a new skill, you need to put in consistent effort. Writing is no different. Set yourself a timeline to complete your project and a word count to achieve each day. For me, that number is 1500 words. Somedays I do double or triple that. But no matter what, Monday to Friday, I don’t feel right, until I by pass that number. And yes, that does mean wickedly long days sometimes. Today is one of them. It’s nearly two a.m. as I’m writing this. But I’m not going to bed until I’m finished!
5. Don’t compare yourself to others
This is a hard one. It’s only natural to look over your shoulder at others who have achieved more than yourself. And don’t we always find ourselves lacking? Stop that. The only person you are in competition with is yourself.
6. Get out of your own way
Stop making excuses about why you can’t write. I spent years doing this and as a result, only started to write when I turned forty. Put yourself and your desire to write first. You can do it!
First of all, reading is good for you. Studies have proven that it relieves stress. And goodness knows that writing a novel can result in high levels of anxiety! But apart from those holistic reasons, you need to read, in order to become a better writer. Every time you read a new book, you are learning. What works, what doesn’t, how sentences are phrased, how dialogue is written, when pace is slow or spot on. Read my friends. Only good can come from it.
Happy writing and reading everyone.
An angel gets its wings…
Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating. As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.
Hence, Christmas is cancelled.
So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born. But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening… Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful life of all?
Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book tells the story of Belle, a young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest decision of her life this Christmas on The Ha’Penny Bridge.
Carmel Harrington always dreamed of being a writer, but as is often the way, life took her in another direction. That is, until four years ago when she quit her job as a sales and marketing manager and began to write full time. She is now the author of three books, Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, The Life You Left and Every Time a Bell Rings. Carmel is a regular on Irish TV as one of the panelists on TV3’s Midday Show and a regular guest on radio stations. A popular freelance writer, she has written features for The Irish Independent, The Daily Mail, The Evening Herald & Woman’s Way and USA’s acclaimed online blog, Mothering In The Middle. She lives with her husband Roger and young children Amelia and Nate in a small coastal village in Wexford.