- Write for your own pleasure, because it makes your heart sing and brings joy to your life. But take it seriously because there will never be a better time to start unless you find it and guard it fiercely. Sometimes your house will be dirty. This is normal.
- Read as much as you can and without discrimination, you never know what unexpected treasure you’ll discover. All the time you’re reading you’re also effortlessly absorbing the beautiful variety of language and story. Of course, if you’re not enjoying a book just put it down, life’s too short and there are plenty more on the shelves.
- Learn to welcome criticism and find people who will be honest with you. Don’t take it personally, use it to make your work better. How you make it better is up to you. Unless they’re your publishers and they suggest a much better title than you ever could, those guys are always right!
- Practise reading out loud. Things sound different when spoken and you’ll hear all the repetitions and clunky phrasing that you missed when reading in your head. Yes, it feels awkward, and certainly avoid doing it on the bus, but if your work is published you’ll need to do it then anyway.
- Find some fellow travellers; writing on your own can be lonely and the setbacks dispiriting. You may have some close friends who buoy you up or you might look for your people in the book-loving communities online. Once you start looking, you’ll find writers everywhere.
- Be pragmatic. Not everyone will enjoy your writing or your story. This is fine; we all have different tastes in food, music, lovers and literature and it’s what makes life so interesting.
- Step away when you need to. It can wait, no-one’s going to die except on paper, and sometimes the most intractable problems have a way of ironing themselves out when you don’t look them in the eye.
- Keep going because this is a slow business. Everything you write is valuable and every setback can be learnt from. I’ve thrown away whole book’s worth of words over the years but I know my stories are better for it.
- Most importantly, remember these tips may not work for you. There are plenty of ‘rules’ but they don’t all work for all writers. Don’t feel bad about ignoring any that don’t resonate, it’s your writing.
Creating A Little Bird Told Me has been one of the most rewarding, maddening and joyful experiences I’ve ever had. Where ever you are in your writing journey, I hope you discover the same pleasure and I wish you every success.
Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?
In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.
As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…
Twelve years later Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.
And atone for the part she played in it.