@Helen Hiorns was discovered on Movellas and is now a published author. She reveals her steps to success...
A year ago, a teenage Helen Hiorns put pen to paper - or should that be finger to keyboard - and laboured over her first novel on Movellas. Today that same novel - ‘The Name On Your Wrist’ - has been published by Random House and can be found in bookstores across the UK.
Helen shows that the only thing between you and a published book is hard work. Write an alternative ending to her novel in our writing competition here!
Here’s her eight secrets for writing success:
1. Write things
This is the one actual qualifying feature to be a writer. Pick up a pen or open up a word document and gets some words down and suddenly, boom, you’re a bona fide writer! Congratulations!
2. Get someone to read your work
Writing is often an incredibly personal thing and really it’s difficult to let someone into the inner workings of your head, but it’s also really important.
One of the brilliant things about websites like Movellas is that they give you a platform to post and share your work, particularly if you’re not ready to send them to your friends or family. I posted stories anonymously online for years before I let anyone I knew take a read and I still feel slightly uncomfortable whenever I think that my parents and teachers and friends now have open access to my writing!
And why is it so important to let people read your work? Well, that brings me smoothly onto…
3. Talk about writing
I started this by responding to reviews back when I was posting my stories online anonymously, and it’s amazing how a dialogue between you and your readers makes you see your work differently.
Sometimes I feel like I’m sat here typing and all my words are disappearing into a massive void, and then it’s easy to become disillusioned and feel like you’re not getting anywhere. It’s so grounding to know that you have someone who’s waiting for the next chapter, or feels connected to one of your characters, or is making predictions about where the plots going to go next.
I made a lot of friends back on the first website who I’m still in contact with today. I even dedicated ‘The Name on Your Wrist’ to someone I started talking to about writing online, because there’s nothing as encouraging as fellow-writing buddies nagging you for updates and offering you their thoughts and opinions.
These days I have my friends and family asking me about plots and how the sequels going, too, but either way talking about writing is invaluable. Tell someone about your writer’s block and your plot holes and that frustrating chapter which just won’t work right. We’re all writers here, after all.
4. Read your writing
Yep. I know it makes you cringe the first time you read back, and maybe even the second time, and sometimes even six novels down the line… but soldier through and try and get past it. Rereading things you’ve written is practical (better make sure you’ve remembered that bit of plot) and necessary…. Plus, with the benefit of a reread you begin to feel out all those things that you might have done differently with the extra wisdom of a few more chapters. You then have the fun choice of either editing and retweeting or just parking it and taking your newfound knowledge to your next big project, but learning from past mistakes is a huge part of perfecting a skill like writing.
You can’t avoid it by just starting something new forever, and even something you’re really proud of can be edited for just about forever. Nothing is perfect. There will always be another typo or a slightly better way of phrasing something, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve something a lot by revisiting and reworking. Editing is difficult and can be really frustrating, but it’s really worthwhile.
6. Keep writing
Just a reminder, in case you got lost amongst all the talking and reading and editing…. Actual words are the end game here. That’s important too.
7. Publicity matters
Gone are the days of the reclusive and mysterious writers. JK Rowling has websites full of extra information. John Green vlogs. Rainbow Rowell openly talks on Twitter about her love of fanfiction.
There are a lot of books on the shelves and even more eBooks available on Amazon… it’s easier than ever to self-publish and there’s a whole wealth of books online for free, which are all great things for the aspiring writers, but it means it’s pretty difficult to get yourself noticed.
As someone lucky enough to be published by Random House, I got an editor and a publicist, but for anyone trying to go it alone or just trying to set themselves up for the future, the whole putting yourself out there lark can be pretty daunting. My publicist set up a few interviews with book bloggers and gave out free copies of my book to reviewers in exchange for reviews, which really helps to put your name out there. Meanwhile I was calling round local newspapers and talking my uni paper into doing an interview with me…. Prepare to annoy your friends on facebook with constant book plugging. Remember that book bloggers are you friends. Set yourself up a twitter.
Putting yourself out there is difficult and definitely goes against my nature (I avoiding phoning people as much as possible, because I’m never entirely sure what’s going to come out of my mouth), but it’s really important.
8. Remember why you’re writing.
So, you’re knee deep in writing, talking about writing, reading your writing, editing and trying to get someone in this big wide world to notice you…remember why you picked up the pen in the first place.
For me, it was because I had a story to tell and writing was the single thing that made me feel powerful. I could always say a lot more through stories than I could in real life and these characters would take over and transform the stories I was supposed to write… and it’s amazing.
Writing is really difficult sometimes. It’s hard to keep churning out ideas and words alone in your bedroom with your laptop and it sucks when you really love a story and there’s no one who’s as excited about it as you are. Keep in mind the reason why you started writing and everything will be so much easier.
What do you think about Helen’s advice? If she missed anything out you can ask her in the comments of our #AskHelen Blog next week! Helen will answer your questions personally in a YouTube video.