You know what? This post is mostly a checklist to myself to keep me on the straight and narrow, but if it helps you – great! So, here goes:

Read widely:

This might seem self-explanatory if you wish to be a writer, but you wouldn’t believe how many writers I’ve met who have said they don’t read much; instead they want to write the books that haven’t yet been written. It’s true that a prime motivation of a writer is to write a story that hasn’t yet been told, but in order to become good at your craft, a writer should read often and widely. My preferred genres to read are psychological fiction books and supernatural horror, but recent reads have included Sci-Fi/dystopian and Urban Fantasy.

Write regularly:

I would be lying if I said I wrote everyday; having a young child often means that childcare takes priority. When I have time to write, I try to squeeze in a minimum of a paragraph. I don’t tend to set time constraints, as I find that a rather rigid and inflexible aim. Instead I aim to progress the plot by even a smidgen; I also count cutting parts that I feel irrelevant to the plot or characterisation as progress towards the ultimate goal of finishing a novel-length manuscript.

Use your chapter plan:

In my blog post on Outlining and planning a novel, I talked about the importance of using a notebook to plan chapters, characters and research. I always refer to my chapter plan notes to avoid straying from the main storyline (one or two red herrings can enhance a story. Too many can detract from the plot and annoy the readers). Once I have finished a chapter I tick it off in my chapter plan notebook and mark the date. Doing so also makes for a satisfying record of completion.

Accept feedback:

Once finished, find yourself an editor, or at the very least a competent second set of eyes to look over your work and catch mistakes. I find that after six months or so of writing a first draft, I ‘burn out’ on the story in the sense that I can no longer see the flaws. A good editor will lovingly point out any inconsistencies in the plot, characterisation in addition to spotting any typos. All writers need an outside perspective to improve their work.

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her writing centres around protagonists who are on a journey of self-discovery and who explore their identity by overcoming adversity. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry. In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing ezine, with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from literary pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary tot, a voracious reader of construction vehicle books. CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA: https://mailchi.mp/17e6ca162ff3/leilanie-stewart-author

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