Five things I’ve learnt about writing – Alex Sinclair

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By Alex Sinclair

I love writing. It’s something I didn’t discover until I was about 28 years old. I hadn’t so much as written a short story before that time. When working on a free-writing exercise for a university course I was taking at the time, I started writing down some ideas I’d had running around in my head for years. Before I knew it, I had written out a few chapters of something far more extensive than what I had begun working on. ♥

After six months of tapping away here and there, I had written my first novel. It had its flaws and was crammed full of errors and rookie mistakes, but it was something I had created out of nothing. Since then, I’ve written seven novels. I couldn’t imagine life without writing.

In that time, I’ve come to learn a few things about writing.

  1. Writing is rewriting

Most authors have heard this one before, but it couldn’t be more accurate. When you write the first draft of a piece of writing, it is so far from being complete it’s not funny. For anything I’ve self-published, I edit a project in five passes, with different goals at each stage before I feel ready to hand it over to a copyeditor. For my projects with a publisher, the process is even more intense working closely with an editor at the draft, structural, line edit, copyedit, and proofing stages. It’s a lot of effort, but it is well worth the time to polish your writing and learn from each step of the process.

When I wrote my first novel, it was easy to think just going through the draft once looking for typos or grammatical errors would be enough to call it a finished piece of work. With time and experience, I learned just how critical it was to look at the structure and flow of the writing and the characters’ motivations before it came time for a copyedit and a proofread.

  1. Don’t fall victim to ‘comparison-itus’

It can be hard when you see a debut novel by an unknown author take off and sell like crazy. That person’s life seemingly changes overnight while you are forced to continue the struggle that is creative writing. What you have to remember is that author didn’t just wake up one day and write a bestseller. They worked hard on their craft, and no doubt spent years refining their skills to achieve their success.

Most authors don’t see any kind of measurable success until they’ve written five to ten novels. I only managed to secure a three-book deal with a publisher after having already written six books. That process of writing those books taught me more than any class, book, or course ever could. Keep writing and treat the success of those around you as motivation.

  1. Reading is as important as writing

When you start writing on a daily basis, put in a lot of hours in alongside the rest of the crazy things that life decides to throw at you, it can be easy to forget about the very thing that motivated you to write in the first place: reading.

I remember the thrill of finding a good book and wanting to devour it whole as quickly as possible. With a busy schedule, I can only fit in one to two hours of solid reading per day. Those few hours are so important for me to continue to learn from other authors to see what works.

  1. Being an author is hard work

If you think that writing is an easy way to make a living or something you only need to dabble in here and there to be successful, you are headed for disappointment.

I currently don’t write full-time, but it is a goal I am striving to achieve. I get up five days a week at 5am and spend two hours writing before I head off to my day job. When deadlines loom, this extends into my weekend with additional hours spent at night getting things done.

It’s hard work to get up at that golden hour, no matter what, and produce the required amount of words I know I need to have completed to progress along on a project. If I’m feeling ill or my toddler has spent the night fussing away, I still need to get up and get the work done if I want to beat my deadlines. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.

  1. You never stop learning

I’ve been writing novels, novellas, and short stories since 2011. Even after seven years of persistence, I still learn new things about the craft of writing every day. Each new project shines a light on something different and intriguing that I need to wrap my head around, and I love that aspect of the challenge.

Alex Sinclair is a thirty-two-year-old psychological thriller author from a quiet country town outside of Melbourne, Australia. A hard-worker during the daylight hours, Alex spends early mornings and late nights obsessing over fiction. He is an avid reader of all genres, in particular, psychological thrillers, and has a passion for good storytelling in all forms of media. The Last Thing I Saw is the first of three gripping psychological thrillers he will be publishing with Bookouture.

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