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Write on!

Somerset author Rachel Edwards shares her 'lucky seven' tips for writing YOUR book

Despite the bucket-load of crapola that was much of 2021, many of us feel optimistic about what 2022 may bring. Maybe this year we could realise a childhood dream, start a fabulous new career – or possibly both, by finally writing that book.

You know the book I mean, especially if you’re a lover of literature, a creative type, or simply someone who has a jaw-dropping true-life tale to tell. It’s the book that you daydream about at work, or while browsing in bookshops, thinking that if you had more time/motivation/talent you might – one day – get around to writing it. Who better to help you get started than the novelist, columnist – and newly arrived Somerset resident – Rachel Edwards.

Her debut novel, Darling, featuring a toxic battle between a black British stepmother and white stepdaughter, was hailed as ‘the first Brexit thriller’. The Guardian lauded her second, Lucky, a psychological thriller set in the world of online gambling as one of the year’s best. Now as she sets her sights on her third novel, she advises any would-be authors: don’t hold back; harness your energy, your creativity – and these killer tips.

Rachel Edwards’ ‘Lucky Seven’ tips to writing THAT book

1. Decide already

You might think it has to be a novel. Great: if you have a burning desire to craft a multi-layered story of 80,000+ words over a year, or two, or more… kudos. However, if you’re recounting a mind-blowing life story, it might it be better as non-fiction; perhaps an autobiography. You might even write a short story or create a collection. Understand what you are aiming for, then go for that.

2. Set your goals

What do you really, really want? To become a published author, with the rejection hurdles that entails? To share a book with friends and family, one day? To create a private record of events? Be honest about your ambitions. That will tell you whether to pursue a traditional publishing path, or self-publish with a view to selling your work, or to simply produce a printed keepsake for loved ones as your dream literary outcome.

3. Plan the book

This is easier than it sounds. Why? Because your plan does not have to be set in stone; it is likely to evolve as you go along. The trick is to give yourself a starting point. Open a new doc on your computer and write ‘Overview’, then a few sentences, ‘Chapter One’, a few sentences, ‘Chapter Two’ and so on. Create a helpful outline of what you would like your book to be. This can take minutes or days.

4. Scribble

Buy a new, ideally gorgeous, notebook in which to jot down ideas whenever and wherever they arise. Keep it in your handbag and by your bedside.

5. Prioritise writing time

Not easy, with work and family commitments. But for each novel I’ve published, I’ve book-ended (puns always intended) my creative process with a writing retreat. A few days away from home, dedicated to kicking off my book, or to bring a novel to a crescendo at that most intense of times. I’ve also taken creative time-out when I’ve hit a lull in my process and need to fire things up again. I swear by writing breaks, which is why I recently launched luxury, bespoke writing retreats and masterclasses in the stone barn of our 17th century Somerset farmhouse near Langport.

6. Connect

Join a local writing group or go online for a host of support for new and established writers. Follow hashtags like #writersofinstagram; maybe follow the socials of authors you admire (ahem!). I am often contacted by emerging writers hoping to attend my events and retreat Masterclasses, so don’t be shy!

7. Above all … WRITE

Sounds obvious, but getting the words down on the page separates the writers from the dreamers. So write, daily if you can, and without fear (the delete key is your friend). You’ve got this. Write… and dare to make 2022 the year of YOUR book.

Darling (2018) and Lucky (2021) are both published by 4th Estate, HarperCollins.

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