Many members of farming families dream of writing a book.
Whether it’s country memoirs, local history, a Jilly Cooper-style “bonkbuster” or a high-tech thriller, these nine simple tips can help you turn that dream into a reality
Procrastination is the enemy of authors, so don’t wait for inspiration.
Every minute you procrastinate is one less minute you’re writing.
Once you have something down on paper (or more likely your computer), you have something to edit.
Easier said than done, admittedly, but just try to get going.
2. Write about what you know
Whether your story is about a contemporary forensic pathologist or a 1930s farming family, pick topics and characters you are interested in, inspired by and informed about.
Right now, farming and food are hot topics with the public, so it might just be the perfect time to write that rural-based blockbuster.
3. Get a routine
You might allocate one day every weekend to the task. You might prefer to lock yourself away for a few unbroken weeks at a quiet time every year.
You might even take your iPad with you on the tractor and type for half an hour every lunchtime.
What’s important is finding a routine that works for you and sticking to it.
Farming people are good at multiskilling, so you’re already well-placed in this respect.
4. Set targets
It’s good to give yourself goals and it makes the task less intimidating if you break it down into manageable chunks.
Can you get a draft of the first chapter done by the end of the month? The first three by Christmas? You could be halfway through it by the time you are lambing next year.
5. Listen to feedback
Show your work to people whose advice you trust and listen to what they say. Be true to your own vision, but take constructive criticism on board.
Then edit again. Then edit again. Then edit again.
7. Be persistent
They say you have to be an optimist to be a farmer, so channel this approach as you battle the odds.
Don’t get discouraged when you hit setbacks.
The path to publication will be full of ups and downs.
Those stories of famous writers getting rejected dozens of times before achieving success are true.
8. Draw on your other skills
Publishers and agents like professional people. You’ll be more appealing to them if you appreciate the business realities of the book trade.
Meet deadlines, be professional and be a nice person to deal with.
9. Stay positive
Remember why you’re doing this. It’s because the act of writing is fun (and, of course, because you want Steven Spielberg to snap up the film rights). If he does, you’ll buy a bigger, better-equipped farm and a holiday home in the Bahamas (in that order). Celebrate your milestones.
Enjoy the ride. Good luck.