Thank you to Burning Embers author Hannah Fielding for guest blogging today!
Confidence for Writers: Believing in Your Book Idea
I’ve wanted to be a writer since childhood, and at a tender age I began writing stories to impress my governess and parents, and later to amuse my peers (it’s amazing how popular writing romance stories can make you at a strict convent school!). But it was always books that held the biggest fascination for me. My house was full of them. I devoured them in single sittings. I knew I wanted to be a book writer when I ‘grew up’. But the problem was, finding the Big Idea.
My first novel was Burning Embers, and the idea for the novel danced about in my imagination for a long time before I finally put pen to paper. Why? Partly, I needed to find the time to write, and the discipline. Partly, I needed to research the setting, Kenya in the 1970s. But mainly, I needed to believe in the idea enough to go for it.
So how do you do it? How do you take that idea that’s teasing you, keeping you awake at night, causing you to zone off in a daydream any time of the day, and commit to it? How can you say to yourself, ‘This is it! This is the one! I’m going to run with it!’?
I don’t have a magic answer. But I have written five novels now, and I have come to a place where I no longer doubt a book idea when it forms . Here are some ideas to help build confidence and take you from dreamer to doer:
- Write up the idea. Plan the book. Look at it from every angle. Start to make it real, not just something locked up in your head.
- Share the idea with someone you trust, such as a family member or a friend whom you know loves books in the genre. Brainstorm together. Be open to feedback – and especially to encouragement!
- Research the marketability of the idea. Has it been done before? Is there a market for it?
- Research elements of the story. Test how you feel. Is your excitement growing? Is the idea blossoming?
- Put the idea away. Try to let it go. Struggling? Well, that’s a good indication that you love this idea.
- Read lots of books, both in the genre you want to write and outside of it. Toni Morrison once said, ‘It there’s a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ Are you feeling that way about your book? Do you feel bereft because you can’t read it?
- Think about spending many, many hours lost in the story in your mind. Does your stomach plummet at the idea? Or are you itching to begin?
Finally, you reach a point where you write – because you must write! But importantly, once you’ve believed in your book idea enough to write it, you’ve got to hold on to that belief forevermore! Through the publishing process, and – crucially – through the marketing process. Your book is your baby. No one should love it more than you, its creator.
Maybe your book won’t be a bestseller. Maybe not everyone will love your Big Idea. In truth, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you believe in it. Because then every moment and every drop of energy you dedicate to your book is worthwhile. Then, when you are old and grey and your eyes drift to the book – your book! – on the shelf, you’ll be filled with pride.
And – most excitingly – you’ll have the courage to believe in a whole new idea when you’re ready, and you’ll do it all again. Because you truly are ‘a writer’.
Hannah Fielding bio
Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.