We love learning about the writing process here at ProWritingAid. Every author approaches the task slightly differently: and not all authors are born equal. Many writers have wondered just what it is that makes bestselling, award-winning authors so, well, bestselling and award-winning.
With that in mind, it's always exciting when we get a glimpse into the minds of the authors we love to read.
Maggie O'Farrell won the Women's Prize for Fiction for her book, Hamnet this week. If you've not read it, the novel follows Shakespeare's son Hamnet as he struggles to survive in plague-ridden 16th century England. We won't look too closely at the parallels with our own times.
That premise doesn't exactly scream overnight success. But what it does do is show the power of a story told well by a passionate author.
O'Farrell's husband William Sutcliffe (also an author) offered up the blueprint to her success in a series of tweets that we just had to share with you. Whether you're considering if you should take the leap and write for yourself rather than for the market, or wondering how many re-drafts makes a bestseller, there's something here for you.
On to that blueprint.
... that you have to work and work, year in year out, honing your craft, ignoring the fact that for the first decade most reviewers are incapable of praising your books without expressing surprise that a young female writer has written something that isn’t "chick-lit” ...— William Sutcliffe (@Will_Sutcliffe8) September 10, 2020
Every sentence must be polished till it shines. At the point where any ordinary mortal would hand a book in, exhausted, you go back to the beginning and redraft. Then you do it again. ...— William Sutcliffe (@Will_Sutcliffe8) September 10, 2020
It's also important to be surrounded by people who want you to succeed - Maggie O'Farrell's editor and agent were those people, but having your partner, family and friends cheering you on can be a big help when you're not sure you're going to make it.
On top of that, you must harvest inspiration by giving as much energy and passion to your non-writing life as you do to the hours spent at the desk. ...— William Sutcliffe (@Will_Sutcliffe8) September 10, 2020
Also, being born with huge talent and reading several novels a week for forty-odd years helps. That’s it! The secret formula for literary success is revealed! Now you know.— William Sutcliffe (@Will_Sutcliffe8) September 10, 2020
Knowing and doing are very different things. It's safe to say that writing a novel is a marathon run backwards with a blindfold on rather than a walk in the park for any writer. But these tweets show that writing something readers the world over will love is a whole body effort.
There's lots to take away from this. Even if you only adopt some of these tips, they'll make a big difference to the way you write. Cutting out time spent on social media and repurposing it towards writing or family time can help you find pockets of time to write your novel that you never knew you had. Taking time to read like a writer, analyzing what makes a story work can help you get out of a writing rut.
What's your writing process? Will you make any changes now you've seen how an award-winner writes? Let us know in the comments.