Write First

Novelist Louise Doughty has started a regular column in the Telegraph in which she will teach the art of writing. Doughty must not be new to teaching fiction because she is careful to point out that:

Forget for a moment the loneliness, paranoia and financial insecurity, Being a Writer is great fun.

But there is a catch. You have to write. This is something that would-be writers sometimes appear not to have grasped. Like many novelists, I often give talks at festivals and a common question is, ‘How did you get your first novel published?’

It’s a perfectly valid question but I often suspect the motivation behind it. What was your trick? is what they mean. Tell me your trick, because when I know it, I will be published too. The honest answer, I’m afraid, is, “I wrote a good book. And if you want to be a published writer, you will have to write one too.”

Good advice, that. Reminds me of the top FAQ on Elmore Leonard’s site: “How do I find an agent?” Leonard’s answer: “My advice is to learn how to write and the agent will find you.”