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We looked yesterday at remembering the why of writing: without that reminder, we can run out of steam pretty fast. I’ve mentored scores of writers over the last two decades, and many of them have made the leap from aspiring writer to publishing, thriving career writer. How? Some of it is craft and technique, of course – but a common starting point is this one: do what you love.

It sounds simple – and even a little clichéd. Follow your bliss. Pursue your passion. Etcetera. And of course, lots of new writers will simply say: I love writing. I want to be a writer. But what kind? What do you love?

My third novel is set in the seventeenth century after a shipwreck and a brutal massacre. Writing it involved, as you might imagine, lots of research. Days at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, transcribing ship’s journals by hand, trying to keep track of hundreds of dates and names… I remember feeling swamped at one point, overwhelmed. And in that week of feeling overwhelmed, I noticed that all the bestsellers were commercial novels about middle class mothers struggling with motherhood. Booksellers and critics had even given this genre a name: Mummylit. That week was difficult – baby hadn’t slept, and I’d lost a load of notes, and I couldn’t find a translator for some Dutch journals, and my story seemed impossible. So I phoned my agent and said, “I think I should abandon this book and dash off a mummylit novel.”

My agent listened to my exhausted ramblings, and then she said, “You will not be able to dash off a mummylit novel, Kathryn, because you do not love it. You will never finish it and you will never value it if you do.”

It was the wisest thing she’d ever said to me.

You can only write what you love. You can only be the kind of writer you admire. If you’re unsure, begin with listing the writers you do admire. List the kinds of books you want to read. List the books you have read. List the books that have made you envious when you read them, because you wished you’d written them. That’s your treasure map, your clue to what you love. And that is what you need to write.


Today’s prompt…


Write an Easter memory…