It's my first week back at "work" after a glorious holiday in North Norfolk, where I stayed so close to the beach I could smell the salt in the air.
Writing doesn't always feel like a real job. It's not hard like a soldier or a doctor or lawyer. I sit and imagine things. I'm under no illusions how hard other people's jobs are.
Writing, creating, making art, they're all hard in a different way. You're bringing something from nothing and there are a million voices inside, other than your characters, all the self doubt and inner critics who will not shut up, unless you work very hard to get them to stop. Even then, they never really go away.
Is this story good? Does it make sense? Will anybody else like it? Can I get another publishing deal? Am I wasting my time? Ooo, look, some paperwork/tidying/insert any boring, mundane job that seems far more appealing than writing.
Writing is an act of faith. One that you can only do if you shut out the rest of the world and focus on the story that you have to tell. The story that has been gifted to you by the muses. The story only you can tell.
People talk about the difficult second novel. I can feel the pressure of making my next one as good as the first, different, but engaging. I'm also still not one hundred percent sure how I wrote the first one. It was years and years of work and revising, the feels like a magical process now I'm starting from scratch again with a blank page and a vague idea. It's not as polished as The Choice. There's no way it could be, yet.
The biggest trick for me has been to stop wondering what I should be writing and just write a story that I love, that I enjoy writing and trust that others will like it as well.
I created a poster to remind me of this and thought I would share the two versions with you in case you need the same reminder. Just download and print them, then stick them up somewhere visible.
Write the story you love. Trust others will love it too.
The Choice - imagine a world where sugar is illegal, baking is a crime and the government use diet, exercise and shame to keep people in line. Winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition, Good Housekeeping Book of the Month and The Times Audiobook of the Week. The Choice is available now as a paperback, ebook and audiobook.