'Motherwhelmed' by Anniki Sommerville available on Amazon uk
I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
From an early age, English was my favourite lesson and I was great at inventing. At primary school I told all the kids that Benny and Agnetha from ABBA were my parents. I also said I had a brother but he’d been stolen away by robbers (a concerned parent called my Mum and I was told off for making this up). Now after years of writing and editing other peoples’ work, I’ve finally got a book coming out. Two books (I’ll leave the plugs to the end). This hasn’t been an overnight thing. It’s been a slog. Having saidSelfishMother.com2that, I meet people and they say – ’I’d love to write a book, how do you fit it in?’ Or – ’I have an idea but I don’t know where to start,’ or ’I need to do a creative writing class first.’
So I thought I’d write some stuff that was helpful to me.
1.It’s not true that ’everyone has a book in them’
I’m not Salman Rushdie. I’m not particularly high brow BUT I always knew I wanted to be a writer. It feels nowadays that a book is seen as a route to something bigger. If you’re writing to ’raise your profile’ or ’gain more followers’ then you probably aren’t writing anything good. You’d be better off getting a selfie with an influencer and building a profile that way (it’s quicker than writing a whole book right?)
2. Writers don’t have oodles of time
I can’t retreat to a ’Pinterest-worthy’ writing den at 5.30am and emerge refreshed at 4pm. Maybe when I’m a millionaire that’ll change. For now, I have to look after two children.There’s washing, and the cat keeps vomiting down the stairs. If you wait for a clear month/year to write then it’ll never happen. The parenting years are harsh. There’s been lots written about how ’the pram in the hall’ is a barrier to creativity BUT I’d say it’s made me more efficient. I keep my laptop out and if I have ten mins I write. If I’m travelling I sometimes use my phone to make notes. When I worked in an office I used the commute (usually a lot of bile about colleagues I couldn’t stand).
3. Start writing
Don’t wait for the idea to come. Stop reading books on ’how to write’. The first step is to WRITE. I have read a lot of books on the craft and then realised it was a delaying tactic (like looking at cook books but never preparing any of the recipes).
4. Be inspired by the humdrum
Conversations, baby groups, overheard chats on buses…all these things are filed away. Okay there are lots of writers out there that have amazing imaginations but I always went by the adage- write what you know. So you might do a science fiction book but there’s a character that’s a Mum who’s trying to breastfeed. Or a kids book which has an annoying villain based on someone you hate (I use writing to get revenge- usually those I used to work with who didn’t give me credit for my hard graft- you know who you are).
5. Be prepared to write a lot of toss
I’ve written four books. I’d say two of those are jibber-jabber. However if I hadn’t written those books then I’d never have written the one that got me an agent. So don’t be demoralised if you read stuff you’ve written and think – this is shit! You’re getting better and one day you’ll be the next JK Rowling and Hollywood will be calling and you’ll have Dave grohl on speed dial (this
SelfishMother.com7is what I tell myself).
Most importantly enjoy (if you don’t enjoy it then do something else- the whole idea that you have to ’suffer for your art’ is rubbish – a myth spread by men who wanted writing to seem like some dark, mysterious thing so they didn’t have to do the washing up and could drink lots of booze and sleep around