recently left a comment on my blog, under Robyn
Opie's Blog Tour. Louise asked me a number of
questions, so today I thought I'd answer them.
Thank you Louise for posting these questions.
"I have no formal writing
qualifications but I do have a need to write. Do
you think it's a necessity with all the
competition today to have a piece of paper to
make publishers take note of your work or is
passion and a good story enough?"
I don't have a piece of paper, not in the form of
writing qualifications. I've completed short
courses on writing children's books, none of
which provide a piece of paper though they are
all run by the government. I've read books on
writing for children and, of course, I read a lot
of children's books.
So, to answer this question, publishers are more
interested in passion and a good story than
formal writing qualifications. Formal
qualifications do not make a writer, nor a great
story. They can help but they are not a
Yes, you have to have skills. Completing courses
is important, in my opinion. I'm sure the courses
I did improved my writing, knowledge and chances
of getting published. Feedback from an
experienced writer, tutor, is invaluable.
Publishers are looking for great characters, who
react in interesting ways to a variety of
circumstances. Think Harry Potter. He is a
character and the world has taken to him in a
huge way. Create characters that publishers and
readers will embrace. Then you can put your
character or characters into numerous situations
and your readers will want to read about every
"Where does your
determination come from and how did you have the
courage to push your first novel from beginning
to end? I have always wanted to write a romance
novel but found the task too daunting."
Firstly, I'm going to give you some advice on
your desire to write a romance novel. Your
thoughts are telling you that it is too daunting.
That is one way of looking at this task. But I
prefer to look at it another way - small, easy
pieces. A romance novel is a bunch of chapters. A
chapter is not daunting. A chapter is relatively
easy. When you finish that small step, then you
move on to the next one. I call this bite-size
pieces. When a task looks too big, break it down
into manageable steps. In the case of a novel,
break it down into manageable chapters.
I usually work with similar targets. When I was
finishing my last manuscript, I decided I wanted
to write 500 words a day. I didn't stop until I'd
written 500 words. One day I missed my target and
had to write more the next day to make up for it.
As I got further into the manuscript, I was
writing 1,000 words a day, even 2,000 words near
the end. Using this workable target kept me on
track and eventually increased my productivity
Give yourself workable targets - bite-size
This answer to the first part of your question
might sound too easy. But, in my experience, it
is simple. Writing is a habit. Get into the habit
of writing every day and you will not be able to
help yourself. You'll have to write every day.
That's how life is for me. Just as I have a habit
of biting my nails, I have a habit of writing.
I've written every day for so long now I can't
break the habit. I have to write. So sit yourself
down every day, preferably at the same time, and
write. Pretty soon, you'll find you sit down to
write automatically, without thought. Your mind
is programmed with a habit.
At first you'll have to consciously sit down and
write. After a while, when you do this every day,
the action becomes subconscious. Involuntary,
automatic actions are part of the subconscious,
such as breathing, walking, brushing your teeth
etc. You don't think about these things. You just
do them. They are programmed habits. Writing can
be a programmed habit too. I'm living proof of
The other part of the answer is also simple.
Publishers, agents, producers, all need writers.
Without writers they would not have work, jobs or
businesses. In my experience, publishers are
happy to look at my manuscripts because my
stories might make them money. I also live by the
writers' mantra of "what if". If I
don't try, I'll never know what could have been.
I have to try to find out the answer. I don't
want to be sitting around in my old age wondering
"what if". I'm going to do now and find
out "what if" now`.
"I love reading to my
children and some of the books they bring home
are so poorly written I don't know how they were
published. Am I being unrealistic thinking that I
could write anything better?"
No, you're not being unrealistic. I sometimes
read books and wonder how they got published. I
know I could do better!
The answer can be simple - the writer is well
known and the book will sell well simply by
having the writer's name on the front cover. In
many publishing houses, the sales and marketing
people have the final say on what books are
published. It can be frustrating for editors, who
champion a particular book, only to have it
rejected by the money people, and another book
the editor doesn't like so much could be accepted
for publication. This is a fact of life.
Publishing is a business.
If you want to get published you have to think
that you can write better. If you think that you
can write worse, then go away and chop wood -
writing is not for you. You have to believe in
yourself to do your best work. You have to have
the right attitude. Our thoughts are the most
important influences in our lives. Our thoughts
inspire our actions. Our thoughts create our
destinies. Go forward with the right thoughts -
yes, you can write something better.
As you can probably guess, I believe writing
success has a lot to do with your attitude and
thoughts. I know this from experience. My e-book,
"How to Write a Great Children's Book, deals
with all the technical skills of writing, such as
characters, dialogue, setting, show don't tell
and much more. My e-book also delves into
attitude and thoughts. These are the real secrets
to success, in my opinion. To learn more about
"How to Write a Great Children's Book"
please visit http://www.robynopie.com/howtowriteagreatchildrensbook.html