I’ve been writing since I was young. I can’t pinpoint anything specific that started my hobby/addiction but I always harbored a love of reading. Stories and their unexpected twists and turns astounded and gripped me, to the point where I would sneak into our classroom after the end of school to flick through the next few pages of whatever book we were reading together. So, perhaps as a stage of natural evolution, my desire to read soon transmuted into one to tell my own stories. At first, I stuck to standard plain paper and pencils for my stories that were all blatant plagiarized copies of movies I had seen. For one Christmas, I can’t remember the exact year nor my age, my parents bought me an Amstrad NC150 for me to continue writing and then there was no stopping me.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Write one word at a time and get to the end. There are millions of half-finished and almost ready stories just begging to be concluded. The easiest thing in the world is to start a story but the hardest is to finish it. To help you avoid being stuck in this writer limbo, set yourself a realistic goal of words to do in one sitting-some suggest to write 1,000 a day whilst others give figures a little lower. If you’re new to writing, though, don’t make it a chore. Set the bar low at first, so you can hop it over it and get a sense of achievement.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
I try not to use many resources on writing as all the time I’m reading about it takes away from the time when I could be doing it. I do spend some time on Reddit’s r/Writing pages though. This is an online community of writers, some published and some not, where questions or ideas can be presented for feedback and discussion. If it’s books you’re looking for, you can’t find much better than ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I love most types of fiction. My reading collection runs from ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulks to the catalog of horror authors such as Stephen King, Clive Barker and Richard Matheson. I think to improve as a writer, you have to read as much as possible and as widely as possible too. At the moment, I’m working my way through a historical fiction series on the Mongol Army by an author called Con Iggulden then will start Nail Gaiman’s new one.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Try to find a routine. For me, with a new baby and work that finishes at 2200 six nights a week, my writing time is from 2300 until I’ve done 1,000 words. It’s very tempting to eat and then browse the internet or just slip off to bed, promising myself that tomorrow I’ll do 2,000 to make up for it. But by having a set routine (eat, make tea, collect headphones and find that radio station that gets you in the right mind frame then begin) you soon feel bad if you skip it. It becomes something you are pulled to.
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I write as I go. I’ve planned a few stories before but when I’m writing them, the characters or events suddenly take a right turn into un- scripted territory. I feel that by starting with the general outline–this is the start and here is where we need get to–my stories become alive and independent. I make notes of things beforehand like character relationships, locations and other important continuity factors but that’s as far as my planning goes.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
Me and my wife actually celebrated my first rejection! It’s a big thing to be brave enough to show anyone, let alone a stranger, something you’ve worked on for a few months and by submitting anything I think you have to proud. If it’s rejection you’re worried about, a quick internet search will tell you all about the rejections some of the most well-known and best-selling authors have had. Everyone has them but wear them like badges of honor not like failures.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
Soon, I hope to be able to complete the first draft of my new novel and then return to writing some more short stories. I also have one novella that has been patiently waiting for me to come back so I’m looking forward to plunging back into that world and seeing how it holds up but, overall, my goals are to write more, submit more and learn more.
9. For the next five years?
In five years time I would like to have a few more acceptances! Of course, I would love to be published and have that best-seller but just to be able to get my pieces out there for people to hopefully enjoy would be great. A few more full-length novels completed would also be nice!
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I don’t have a website or a blog but if you would like to leave feedback or contact me then you find me on twitter @LeeHarrisonUK and I will do my best to respond.