I’m so excited to welcome author Rosie Travers to the blog with a fabulous guest blog post – our first of 2022! Thank you for joining us Rosie! Over to you…
New Year, New Me?
January is the month for banishing bad habits. It’s when we declutter and embrace self-improvement. If you’re anything like me your new year resolutions will inevitably contain annual pledges to eat healthier, take more exercise, be more tolerant and practice mindfulness.
2022 marks the 10th anniversary of my writing journey. It was early spring 2012 when I sat down and started writing my first full-length novel. That masterpiece still languishes in a drawer, but I’ve since had two books published by a small indie press, and I’ve just self-published my third.
Over the last ten years I’ve learned a lot about the writing game but that mega-success I always dreamed about has continued to elude me. What’s holding me back, hindering my progress? What bad habits have become the writing equivalent of that afternoon sugary snack or that cheeky extra glass of wine?
No 1 Editing as I go
All the guidebooks and writing blogs will tell you the best thing to do when you’re starting out is to JUST WRITE. Complete that first draft. I can’t do that. I can’t cope with a manuscript that’s full of typos and huge chunks of write this bit later. If the beginning isn’t right, I can’t move forward. Actually, I do move forward a little way, but then I jump backwards again. Which brings me onto…
No 2 Failing to Plan
If you’re a plotter, fantastic, you will be able to JUST WRITE your first draft because you will have meticulously outlined each chapter before you open up your brand new document and start typing. You’ll know each of your characters inside out. You’ll know that Character A, let’s call her Amanda, crochet blankets for the local hospice, has baby blue eyes and a cat called Sherlock. As someone who flies by the seat of my pants, I only know Amanda has a cat called Sherlock several thousand words into my story when Character B, I’ll call him Bradley, has a sneezing fit because of his cat allergy, cutting short a romantic interlude, and providing yet another obstacle for my will-they-wont-they subplot. Now that Amanda has a cat, I need to loop back to where we first meet her and introduce Sherlock into the story so that he doesn’t catch the reader unawares, as he does poor Bradley. As you can see, this process is time consuming and chaotic, not to mention exhausting.
No 3 Scribbling illegible notes to self
I’m currently working on a series of cosy mysteries. I need red herrings and plot twists. Alice (I know, I’ve changed her name, I’ll go back and use Search & Replace later) could now recognise Bradley’s sneeze while she’s snooping around outside at midnight, shadowing a group of suspects. Perhaps Bradley isn’t the guy she thinks he is, or is it a double bluff? Is Bradley on the trail of the villains too? This thought is quite likely to occur to me in the middle of the night. First thing in the morning I’ll jump out of bed and leave a scribbled note by my PC for later. When I arrive at my PC later, will I be able to decipher the cryptic squiggle? It’s highly unlikely.
If I was a plotter, I wouldn’t need Bletchley Park decoding skills to read my own handwriting because I would already know Brad was a bad guy who desperately wants to turn good…
No 4 Not Writing Every Day
A daily word count is another rule I ignore. Back in 2012 when I began writing I was living overseas. Penning that first novel kept me entertained and amused while I was on my own in a foreign country and my husband was out at work. But now I’m back in the UK I have other demands on my time. Yes, I could get up at 5 o’clock every morning, but I did that for years when I had a child who didn’t sleep. If a friend calls up, or my recently retired husband says it’s a good day for a walk along the coast, I don’t say not now because Brad’s about to get Amy into bed, I say let’s go. Brad can wait because you never know how many more walks along the coast you’ve got left in your life. Carpe Diem. (My heroine’s so much more Amy than Alice. Another Search & Replace.)
No 5 Anti-Social Behaviour
When I signed my first publishing contract, nobody warned me about marketing, but I’ve since discovered that’s because marketing is like childbirth. If you knew how painful it was, you wouldn’t get pregnant. Marketing is a vital part of every writer’s journey, and social media is the place to build your author platform and engage with potential readers. I’m shy and reserved and was brought up to be modest. Self-promotion doesn’t sit comfortably with me. I grit my teeth and see how little I can get away with. I’m totally in awe of those authors who have mastered marketing, who have mailing lists and run their own Facebook groups, but to be honest, if it’s a toss-up between playing a game of post a meme or transplanting my lettuce leaves, the veggie patch wins every time.
Will there be a new me in 2022? Probably not. Setting unachievable targets could lead to disappointment and subsequently low self-esteem, cancelling out the calm positivity produced by my new-found mindfulness. I’ll never be a plotter. I want my novels to be fun and entertaining, as much for me as the reader. The joy of writing comes from not knowing where my characters are going to take me next, not knowing whether Amanda really is an Alice or an Amy. But I will be taking steps to improve my time management skills. I won’t be giving up my walks in the countryside, but I do need to use what time I spend at my desk far more effectively. The days of leaping about like a demented frog have to go. As for social media, our relationship needs work. I recognise if I want to be visible, I have to participate. I’ve decided 2022 will be all about finding the right balance. A case of just one chocolate biscuit every afternoon, not two.
Rosie Travers grew up in Southampton on the south coast of England. She spent many years working in local government before becoming a lady of leisure when her husband took an overseas work assignment in California in 2009. She began a blog about her somewhat surreal life as an expat wife which rekindled a teenage desire to become a writer. Now back in the UK, Rosie lives with her husband Neil and cat Ed on the edge of the New Forest.
Rosie takes inspiration from the landscape of her native south coast for her writing, sprinkling her stories with quirky characters, feisty heroines and a large dose of humour. Her debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams, was a contender for the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award in 2018. Her latest book, A Crisis At Clifftops, is the first in a series of cosy mysteries set on the Isle of Wight, featuring amateur sleuth, Eliza Kane, a whisky drinking ex-professional golfer.
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rosie-Travers/e/B07CVZ2CQ5/
A Crisis at Clifftops
The Theatre of Dreams
Your Secret’s Safe With Me