To boldly go where no writer has gone before…

Excuse the split infinitive, but over the last few months, one of the most common conversations I’ve had with new writers is their desire to write something unique and different – something that nobody has ever done before – cue Star Trek and the Starship Enterprise, boldly going where no one has. But, putting my Trekkie roots to one side, it really is the major concern of new writers, and their major obstacle.

It was certainly something I obsessed about in my twenties when I began to think seriously about writing. I had visions of creating a completely new, original fantasy novel to rival fantasy authors such as: Tolkien, Anne MaCaffrey and Robin Hobb. However, I was so lost in my vision of finding that original idea that I failed to get beyond chapter 1.

It wasn’t for want of trying either. It really was because I was fixated with the idea of being original. I didn’t know then what I know now. The big secret that no one tells new writers. A secret I’m going to let you all in on: It’s all been done before. So, if you’re waiting for that original idea, you’ll be waiting a long time.

This is one of the main reasons that so many writers never finish their novel; some never even start, they just move on to the next idea, work it around a bit, then are bitterly disappointed when they realise that there is a similar story line out there. I don’t tell you this to put you off. I hope sharing this will save you a lot of the brain ache and angst I went through. So, here’s another secret which should bring some relief– it really doesn’t matter. If you think about the number of crime novels, romance novels and novels of every genre, including fantasy out there, you’ll find that each genre has a formula – a formula which is specific to that genre and appeals to your reader. This isn’t a licence to plagiarise, there’s a fine line between a formula and blatantly copying someone else’s work, yet there are only a finite number of storylines. However, you can always play around with them by introducing a unique narrative voice, e.g. what if a crime story was told from a perspective of someone who was deaf or someone with impaired vision? Alternatively, you could include a plot twist with a difference, have an interesting setting – the possibilities are endless.

At the same time, do remember that this, ‘writing according to a formula’ is not a licence to write by numbers. You do need to write from the heart and share the story that is there. And, you needn’t worry so much about whether your idea or story has been told before. It probably has, in different guises. However, what will be completely unique and original, is that it is a story that is written by you, with your unique voice, in your own unique way. And that is simply perfect.

So, go forth and write boldly!

Naz Ahsun
Co-Founder Vision Maker Press

How to Be a Bestselling ‘MUMBOSS’ Author!

I had the absolute pleasure of catching up with Mum of two, Vicki Psarias about her bestselling book, Mumboss, recently and was inspired by how she found the time to write her book with a full-time career as a blogger and vlogger, as well as caring for her two children, and being the Founder of Honest Mum.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve wanted to write, Mumboss for several years now (writing a book has been a dream since childhood) but I’m glad it’s was published in 2018, as the 7 1/2 years of experience garnered, working in the digital industry hopefully makes for a truly meaningful and also comprehensive book which encompasses many areas from finding your voice to returning to work after maternity leave with greater confidence and a nuts and bolts guide to setting up your own e-business and more.

This is your first book, what was your writing process like?
I wrote the book between the hours of 10pm and 3am most nights so it was a real labour of love and much like a baby, required me sacrificing a lot of sleep! I had two brilliant editors, Jillian and Anna who empowered me with confidence throughout and, skilfully, cut lots out making for a stronger, more concise book. Jillian encouraged me to get as much of me into the book too.

How long did it take you to write your book?
It was a year-long process that I did whilst working full-time as a blogger and vlogger.

Do you stick to a timetable when it comes to writing?
I wrote the majority of the book at night whilst the rest of the house slept. My final draft was written and polished in daylight hours and I took a week off blogging to focus on delivering that final version, even hand-delivering it on the due date (told you it was like having a baby).

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Keeping it as concise as possible as there was so much I wanted to cover but my editors kept me in check! Overcoming self-doubt while ironically writing exactly how to do that. Questioning whether people would enjoy the book and want to read it? Luckily people have.

Having gone through the process of writing a book, what advice would you give to anyone who is currently writing, or thinking of writing their first book?
Just get it onto the page and start. The writing, and magic is all in the rewriting. It’s like a piece of clay, keep moulding. Bounce off your editor and don’t show your work to too many people as everyone comes to art with their own baggage. Trust yourself, and your editor.

What other writing projects do you have coming up?
I’m loving writing my blog as always and have lots of exciting campaigns coming up with global brands and more book tour dates all over the country right up to April next year. It feels like a joyfully creative time at the moment.

I’ve started reading Mumboss and am really enjoying it. If you’re a mum who would like to have it all, then Mumboss is a great place to start with top tips from someone who does. It’s available on Amazon and honestmum.com, as well as other outlets.

Naz Ahsun
Co-founder Vision Maker Press

Writing Non-Fiction – Where Do I Even Start?

 

If you are reading this then chances are that you’ve got a book, article or blog inside you bursting to come out. Over the last few months, everyone I’ve met has had the same burning question: I want to write a book, article, blog, but I don’t know what to write about? This is closely followed by: Do I have anything of value to write about? Will anyone even read it? It can be confusing, like unravelling a ball of tangled wool.

These are common doubts which we all have. We all have a story to tell. Humanity has been telling stories for millennia, so it’s natural that we all have a book inside of us. Yet the hardest part is extracting it and sharing it with the world. Believe me. I’m there with you because these doubts were alive and kicking when I felt the urge to write my second book, ‘The Little Book of Animal Wisdom’. Yet, like so many, I couldn’t quite grasp what I would write about. At first, I engaged my mind, determined to figure out what I could write, wracking my brains furiously to grasp the elusive strands of an idea. And the funny thing is, that the more I reached for it, getting very stressed in the process, the more elusive it became until I gave up chasing this Will-o’- the- wisp and relaxed into my life.

And, most ironically, it was when I gave up chasing and embraced the moment of my life driving down a country road, windows down, admiring the lush green trees swaying in the wind, the warm, rich smell of the summer breeze playing with my hair, so grateful to be alive, that the idea literally dropped in – no effort required. It was like a file had opened and the contents downloaded, in an instant!

So, the first thing is to relax and get engaged in your life. Writing is a creative process and when you get involved in the creative process of your life, it can act as a catalyst for all sorts of creativity. Slowing down and getting interested in your life is a great way to get right into the middle of the action – after all, that’s where it’s taking place.

The next thing is that you already have the knowledge you need to write your book, article or blog. We know so much more than we give ourselves credit for and discount so much of what we know. I am willing to bet that the skills you already have and take for granted, and might not really appreciate, will be a godsend to someone else. Share your gifts.

At the same time, it’s important to be interested in what you are writing about because if you’re not engaged with it, it will be obvious. Plus, you will feel like you’re dragging your heels, or, in this case, your pen or keyboard finger across the page. Here is where you need to disengage your brain, which might be telling you what you should write about, or what is popular to write about, and engage your passion for the things you’d love to write about.

OK, so what happens after the download?

The most important thing I learnt from my own journey and how I started mapping my book was by asking myself these questions:

• Why did I want to write this book?
• Who was I writing this book for?
• What did I want to write about?
• When was I going to write it?
• How was I going to write it?

These are important questions to consider before you do anything else because they will give you the clarity you need when it comes to planning and writing your book, article or blog. Also, consider your reader in all of this because they are the ones who will be reading it. What journey do you wish to take them on?

From these questions, you will be able to map out your chapter headings, and from your chapter headings, you can begin to fill in the content. The same thing applies with your article or blog.

Finally, remember to have fun with it – don’t get so caught up on whether it sounds right or looks right, simply write what comes to you. The art of writing is re-writing and if you’re looking for the perfect moment to start, the perfect moment is write now.

Happy writing,

Naz Ahsun
Co- Founder of Vision Maker Press

You can buy, ‘The Little Book of Animal Wisdom’ from Amazon. For each book sold, a donation goes to Oak and Burrows Wildlife Rescue Centre.

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