Derek Thompson, author of the recently launched thriller, Standpoint, shares five inspirational insights from his writing journey…
1) Write. It seems so obvious, but you only get to ‘The End’ if you start at the beginning and keep going! It’s a commitment and sometimes it can feel like a drain on your free time, especially when the words aren’t flowing or if you have a crisis of confidence. When you write you learn a lot about yourself, such as your limitations, your comfort zone and willingness to dig deep in order to create characters that live and breathe on the page (and afterwards, in the minds of your readers). It really is a journey because you are constantly improving and learning your craft.
2) Start from where you are. Not everyone has an exotic past, or the ‘right’ connections, or an education that befits whatever your idea of a writer is. What matters though, first and foremost, is the story – whether it’s short fiction or a full-length novel. Your story is about the only thing you have complete control over in the creative process. I believe that all writers draw upon personal experience, their own heritage, and the people and situations around them. Keep a writing pad handy and see your own world through fresh eyes.
3) Get connected. I’ve found the writing community very supportive in general. Of course, every writer is looking to promote their own books, but there is a genuine sense of community – particularly on Twitter in my experience. When you connect with other writers, agents, publishers and promoters, you get a sense of how immense and how diverse the industry is. There may only be a limited number of seats at the top tables, but there is room for everybody somewhere. Writing is by nature a solitary affair, so interacting with other writers – whether it’s face-to-face or online can give you inspiration, support, ideas and information.
4) Be open to possibilities. I’ve been a member of WriteThisMoment for quite a while now. Even if I don’t see opportunities that are an exact fit for my skill-set and background, I sometimes still make contact to see whether there’s another way of working with them. (For example, through WTM I came to write content for adult greetings cards – but that’s another story!) I wasn’t looking specifically for an ebook publisher, but the WTM post made me think about what I really wanted for my book: readers. The publisher and I communicated several times to check we were a good match and I signed the contract in January 2015. It’s no exaggeration to say that I never would have found the publisher without WTM, so I’ll definitely be renewing when my latest subs run out.
5) You decide. There’s a ton of information out there, but only you can decide what’s useful to you and what you do with it. Equally, as a writer, you set the boundaries. I like to experiment and to try writing for different genres; I’ve also self-published, using a friend’s step-by-step guide to create epub and mobi versions of a Word doc. It’s tempting to think there’s a magic formula out there somewhere that will guarantee a bestseller, and some people will try and sell you that idea – literally, but the truth is that luck, timing and a host of other factors play a part.
It’s your writing so give yourself permission to write what you want and how you want. Experiment, explore and imagine. Who knows, maybe you’ll find an opportunity out there for your words.
Derek Thompson is a freelance writer of fiction, non-fiction and comedy. Standpoint, published by Joffe Books, is the first in a series of contemporary thrillers that combine action, intrigue and black humour.