So, you want to be a writer?

How to be a writer. Richard HeddingtonThere is an unusual hush in the library at the moment, and the only signs of life are the faint smell of bananas and the occasional ‘Oook’ sound. I refer to the library of the Unseen University, that fine repository of knowledge situated in Ankh-Morpork. For those of you don’t have a clue what I am rambling about, please read some Terry Pratchett at once. It will improve your life immeasurably. For those familiar with his novels, you already know this.

It is said there is a book inside every person, but based on the few people I have met on my journey through life, I can only hope that in many cases it stays inside them.

For those who do pursue the art of writing the urge to publish is strong and the road to success is a steep and slippery path. Having scoured the internet for advice on getting published I have discovered three simple elements that may (or may not) help.

Chapter 1: Thinking cap.

The first, and a much overlooked feature of a successful writer is to get a hat. It is a well-known fact that publishers and agents will veritably swoon at the mere sight of a writer’s headgear and the wearing of a fez, boater or diving helmet can surely do your cause no harm. Sir Terry, was a prime example of this and his trademark fedora not only gave him a distinctive silhouette, but clearly contributed much to his literary genius. If manners maketh man, then milliners definitely maketh writers. It is a well documented fact that a woman in a pointy black hat is a witch, and a man in a tall pointy hat (especially one that has the word ‘wizard’ on it) is a wizard. It is obviously the hat that makes the person what he/she is. Many fields of expertise have hats specific designed to indicate their profession or standing in the world. Builders wear hard hats, which instantly makes them look hard and people at the top of society wear top hats. Unfortunately, I can find no examples of England cricketers wearing bowler hats. Maybe we would have fared better in the world cup had they done so.

Chapter 2: Drink.

A second essential element of writing is coffee. My love of coffee began as a youngster, at a time when Gold Blend was a posh luxury. Fortunately, times have changed and thanks to a subscription to Hasbean I now get a weekly delivery of single estate beans the day after they have been roasted. It doesn’t get much better than that. What’s that got to do with writing? you may ask. Well, a quick search on Twitter will soon reveal that many of the bios that contain the words ‘author’, ‘writer’ or ’novelist’ also contains the terms ‘coffee addict’ or ‘coffeeholic’. Statistically, this is much too prevalent to be coincidence, and it must therefore be that a love of coffee greatly increases one’s desire to become a writer. Of course, if one wishes to become successful at it, it is essential to adopt a signature beverage. Some are well documented, such as Ernest Hemingway with the Mojito and Ian Fleming with the Vesper Martini. Others, we can only guess at. I suspect Roger Hargreaves, must have had a taste for anything containing absinthe. It is hard to imagine how the likes of Mr Messy and Little Miss Splendid could have been created without several large ‘Monkey Glands’.

Chapter 3: Be a writer.

The third, and possibly best piece of advice for any budding writer is beautifully illustrated by the legacy left behind by Terry Pratchett. He wrote over seventy books in his lifetime, and was still publishing into the summer before his untimely death. The answer to the oft heard question, ‘how do I become a writer?’ is simple… Write.

pratchett photo

Sir Terry Pratchett
1948 – 2015

The end.



Photo by firepile