How to turn yourself in to a writer

I sat in the garden last summer, scribbling my usual waffles of procrastination, and had an epiphanic (and what I thought was a truly original) moment of genius. If I wanted to be a writer, I'd have to start by playing the part.

For this I would need: a serious pair of glasses, a smockish artsy jeans 'n' trainers nonchalant yet deep-thinking air, a portfolio of book group membership, regular mingling with people who live and breathe words, a towering pile of to-reads next to my bed that would surely by their very presence osmose into my being, a declaration to read one poem and one short story per day, plus the book group reading, and others.

I got very excited by this. Just by thinking about it, I could feel the first tingles of transformation.

For this I would need: a serious pair of glasses, a smockish artsy jeans 'n' trainers nonchalant yet deep-thinking air

I've since read, courtesy of Liz Flanagan, in a blog flagged up by Nick last week, that Melvin Burgess suggests your very first writing step should be to fictionalise yourself as a writer. It was reassuring to know that I was headed in the right direction.

It's actually turned out to be so very true. When calling yourself a writer can seem so, well, goddamn presumptious, it's comforting to realise that you can scribble around the tenuous outlines of your fictional-self with a big fat pen and really, truly start to become that which you profess to being.

It reminds me of that Peter Cook quote: "I met a man at a party. He said "I'm writing a novel" I said "Oh really? Neither am I."

But seriously. Joining SCBWI has played a main, protagonist part of that fictionalisation. All the mingling with knowledge and experience and enthusiasm and stories of success and perseverance and critical appraisal and just having a laugh. It soon begins to rub off.

I'm on the next stage on the fictionalisation process. I'm writing, and I'm not going to stop even when I get to the fictional place of 'there'.

From the www

Ladybird books is marking 100 years since first going to print. I'm kinda fond of the illustrations (the Princess and the Pea being one of my favourites) and even the politically incorrect Peter and Jane. There's something about the water-colours of these ever-smiling tableaux that have embedded themselves incontrovertibly in my house of stories. If you're so inclined, there's an exhibition, Ladybird by Design, opening at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, East Sussex next Saturday, and running to 10th May

Don't Forget

Monday Ask a Picture Book Editor featured some very useful FAQs for both illustrators and authors
Tuesday In the aftermath of deadly extremism, Nick's ten-minute Blog Break highlighted the bloggers looking at the freedom of speech, plus some lighter moments
Wednesday Catriona took us on an amusing tour of anagrams in the story world
Thursday Sarah summed up the inspiring get together of South East Scotland
Friday brought us an excellent interview with 2014's Outstanding Volunteer of the year, Anne-Marie Perks

And finally - two more weeks until the deadline for the first SlushPile Challenge of the year. If you've missed this, then catch-up here and get writing your goodly words, and send them off!

Nancy Saunders is the new Editor of W&P. You can find some of her short stories here, and on Twitter @nancyesaunders


  1. Loved this, Nancy - it really made me smile. You don't happen to know where I could get my hands on a smockish jeans 'n' trainers air of nonchalance and deep thinking, do you? They're out of stock on Amazon. (Luckily I've already got the serious glasses - with proper writerly scratches and all).

  2. Thanks for the shout for the SlushPile Challenge, Nancy

  3. Epiphanic is my new favourite word, I'd love a nonchalant yet deep-thinking air and I struggle with calling myself a writer too for those very same reasons!

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