To all you aspiring writers,
I’m starting Wednesday Writing Tips on Twitter (@AmySparkes) which I hope you find helpful. When I started out writing, I remember feeling like I was standing on the brink of a brand new world that I knew nothing about. A wonderful world, but a bit scary. I had left work to spend time with my toddler son and newborn and decided this peak of sleep deprivation was obviously a good time to give writing a go. And if it didn’t work out, it didn’t, but at least I had tried.
I didn’t have a mentor or an agent (at that point) and went straight to a lovely little publisher, which sadly now ceases to exist. Although my experience there was wonderful, I couldn’t help but feel I had been rather lucky – being in the right place at the right time. Looking back, there are so many things that I wish I had known when I was starting out. Things like: the best way to get an agent; how a rhyming picture book actually has to have immaculate rhythm; what high concept is and why it’s important; the ups and downs of being a writer and so much more. Things that I have since learned – sometimes the painful way!
There’s no two ways about it: writing is a hard path. The chances are the first draft of a book you’ve written isn’t going to simultaneously bag you an agent, a massive publishing house, and get you a multi-figure, multiple book deal – although it might!
Sadly, too many aspiring writers give up at the first rejection. We are sensitive souls and having our work rejected – the work that we’ve poured our heart, time and energy into – is sometimes too much. It hurts. It breaks the fragile confidence we have. Sometimes the feeling of not knowing where to go after a setback stops us from trying again. Or people assume their work is never going to be any good, so they put it away forever. And I find this very sad.
Writers (aspiring or established) need encouragement. They need nurturing. It’s my hope that #WednesdayWritingTips will do a little bit to help you as you find your way in the writing world: a little mid-week encouragement and info to help you on your way.
I’m passionate about encouraging new writers. Every month, I write the ‘Writing for Children’ pages in Writing Magazine, where there’s more space to explore certain aspects of the world of children’s fiction. I have also started as a tutor on Writing Magazine’s Creative Writing Courses – so if a one-to-one course appeals to you, check it out.
It’s also my wish to see aspiring children’ authors better catered for at literary festivals up and down the country. You often find workshops for writers of adult fiction, such as ‘how to write a crime novel’, but not often do you find anything for children’s fiction. I ran a ‘Writing Picture Books’ workshop at the brilliant Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival last year – which was packed and well-received. It proved that there is a need and desire for such things. So watch this space!
So do check out #WednesdayWritingTips each week, where I will do my best to help along the way.
All the best with your writing!