Writing a story is not like squeezing a tube of toothpaste.

You may think that a story squirts out of a writer's brain fully formed and ready to use. Not so. At least, that's not how it works for me.


When I'm working on a book I have to do a couple of drafts before I figure out exactly what the book is about. Maybe I have clear in my mind who the main characters are and how it should end, but the journey to get there is shrouded in fog. Even if I have a rough outline, it's not enough. So I write and write and write, until things get clearer. Sometimes I wish it did pop out perfectly crafted - that would make life a lot easier! But perhaps I 'd miss out on the quirky elements and surprising motives and new characters that appear out of the blue.


Where do I get my ideas?

Everywhere! You can sit on a bus and listen to people chat, and you'll have enough story ideas to fill a notebook. The challenge is, to turn all those wonderful ideas into well-crafted stories.


My best ideas occur when two separate things suddenly come together in my mind. Once I was walking through a graveyard and saw one one shoe lying on top of a grave. Fzzt! A spark lit and I was away. Did someone lose that shoe trying to get in - or get out? Or maybe they saw a ghost and were so terrified they left it behind as they fled.


It can be very cluttered inside a writer's mind!


I jot ideas in notebooks which I keep everywhere, even in the car. Once an idea has gathered enough force and I know I want to be with it for a long time, then I will start the slow process of trying to turn it into a book. 


If you want to write, don't be discouraged by your failures - it's all about learning each time to do it a little bit better.