Five things I would say to my young writer by Rachel Brimble, author of A Very Modern Marriage

I wanted to write books around the age of 8 or 9 when I discovered Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series – that’s when I knew I was destined to become author…

Rachel Brimble, A Very Modern Wedding

Of course, things didn’t progress as simply as waiting for fate to find me. I left school at 16, worked in a bank for the next 9 years before I got pregnant and left to have my first daughter. Girl number two arrived 2 years later, and it wasn’t until she started school full time in 2005 that I had a “now or never” moment. It was time to sit down and start writing a novel worth publishing.

This novel was accepted by The Wild Rose Press in 2007 and I have had at least two books published each year since by publishers such as Harlequin Mills & Boon and Aria Fiction in the UK and Kensington and The Wild Rose Press in the United States. I am currently writing my 30th novel.

Writing is my joy… most of the time. It can also be my absolute enemy when things are going badly but, overall, I LOVE what I do!

As you’d expect after writing novels for 17 years, I learned a few tips and learned a few lessons along the way. So what wisdom would I pass on to my young writer? Let’s see…

1) Write what you like – one of the mistakes new writers make is to jump on the bandwagon of everything that sells in the book world when they first start writing. Trends are trends and likely to change or be something completely different by the time you finish your book. Stick to the genre or genres you like to read – not only will you enjoy the process much more, but you’re also likely to know more about the structure of these stories than you think.

2) Take courses – I don’t advise you to spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds. In fact, as a self-taught writer myself, I think most of what makes a writer is intuition and a deep love of stories, BUT there are plenty of free (almost!) free online courses. on point of view, setting, characterization etc. available. It won’t hurt to enroll in these courses and learn more as you write.

3) If possible, find a writing buddy – Writing is lonely, scary, and often something you want to do so successfully that you’re afraid to share your dream with anyone. Well, it was true for me anyway. Then I joined writers’ groups and started participating in online conversations. Soon I made friends who then became my followers until I found myself with two wonderful critical partners who have now worked with me for years. It’s so nice to have someone watching every chapter of your work as you write it and vice versa. Receiving and giving positive and constructive feedback on your work can improve it much faster.

4) Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft – this is actually the best advice anyone has ever given me. Your first novel (or your 30th!) is highly unlikely to be perfect, so have fun writing it! Get the first chapter down, then the next one, then the next and so on. Don’t worry about perfecting it – polishing comes in later versions.

5) Go all the way – Most writers (myself included) have unfinished novels in a drawer somewhere or on their computer, but at some point we finished a complete novel and then had the courage to submit it to an agent or a editor. If you never get to The End, the truth is, you’ll never be a writer. Simple. Finish the book!

Good writing!

Rachel x

A Very Modern Marriage, by Rachel Brimble, is published May 12 by Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus. Available to buy in paperback for £8.99.