Learning from mentors helps us to improve and evolve in our chosen field, and I still recall the advice given to me at the start of my writing journey.
To help other writers, I started a feature whereby established authors shared their words of wisdom and top ten writing tips.
It was a huge success, and I was delighted to bring the feature back for a second season! You’ll find all the Top 10 Writing Tip articles here.
Meet Natalie Normann
Natalie Normann grew up in a small shipping town on the west-coast in Norway. She wanted to be a writer as soon as she realised that books were written by real people. Her debut novel was published in Norwegian in 1995. Since 2007 she has written Historical Romance in Norwegian and recently published her 67th book. Summer Island and Christmas Island are her first books in English, published by One More Chapter HC.
Natalie’s Top 10 Writing Tips
1 This is one I tell every newbie that asks me for advice. Always finish a first draft of a project you start, even if you think it sucks. The first draft will always suck, even if you’re a genius. (Very few of us are.) But finishing that first draft is the best feeling and will help you stay motivated. The reason I say this is because so many new writers get stuck on the first chapters, and they are the least important chapters in any draft. They will change as your story develops, and then you have wasted all that time polishing something that goes in the bin.
2 Write everyday. It doesn’t really matter how many words or pages, or what you write. The point of this is to train your writing muscles. Yes, that’s right. Writing has muscles, and the more you use them, the better they will be.
3 Some writers have a daily word goal. Something to aim for is helpful, only don’t make it too ambitious, or you’ll lose motivation – again. Mine is a 1000 words, which seems to be what my brain manages.
4 It’s important to be nice to yourself. Have a treat when you’ve achieved a goal. Break down your writing into semi-goals and have more treats. Personally, I end up cleaning the house when I’ve finished a book. No idea why, it is what it is.
5 About plotting vs pantsing. I’m an inbetweener, meaning that I don’t plot out the whole story before I start, but also, that I don’t write ‘by the seat of my pants’. I do a lot of pre-work because I generally start a new book while working on another. So I have an idea of where I’m going. About halfway through, I stop, then go back and edit what I have – post-its and all – to see if I have missed anything, and then I adjust the story as I write the rest. But that’s me, and it has taken years to find the method that works for me. Every writer has their own method, developed as they learned their craft. There’s no right or wrong.
6 Shiny notebooks are important. For fun and for motivation, and because I use one for each manuscript. Sometimes two.
7 For the last fifteen years, I’ve written historical romance series. Which means that I’ve had 6-8 weeks on every book, 6 books a year. One of the many things I’ve learned from that process is to love what I’m working on. Really love it. Love your characters, bad and good, love their story and the world you’re building. Because you’re going to be so sick of them at times, you want to give up. If you love them, you’re still going to hate your characters and their story, but you’re more unlikely to give up.
8 One of the more important things I’ve learned is to trust my editor. I’ve worked with a lot of editors, and the best ones want what you want: that you write the best novel you can. And that’s what a good editor does. They make you better, and they will tell you how to do that, and if you listen, you’ll be a better writer.
9 If you want to be a writer, patience and perseverance will get you there. You can have all the talent in the world, but it’s not going to help you if you don’t do the work. Sorry, but that’s how it is. Being a writer is hard. Sometimes you work on a story for years, and it still ends up in a folder on your computer. But when it works, when the words are just right and you know it’s good, that’s the best feeling there is. But mostly it’s like mining for gold and hoping that you’re in the right tunnel.
10 And finally: Rejections and bad reviews. They can be harsh and unkind, and make you feel like a failure. Never, ever take a rejection or a bad review personal. Never, ever let a rejection or a bad review stop you from writing. The editor that says no, isn’t out to get you. They don’t know anything about you. The people who leave bad reviews have issues. You will just have to get over it.
Connect with Natalie here: https://linktr.ee/NatalieNormann
Summer Island (A Very Hygge Holiday, Book 1)
He never meant to stay.
He certainly never meant to fall in love…
Summer Island off the coast of Norway was the place London chef Jack Greene should have been from. He’s an outsider in the community that should have been his family, and now he’s setting foot on the strange land he has inherited for the first time.
Ninni Toft, his nearest neighbour, has come to the island to mend her broken heart. With her wild spirit and irrepressible enthusiasm, she shows city-boy Jack the simple pleasures of island life – and what it means to belong. To a place. To a people. To one person in particular…
Home is where the heart is, but is Jack’s heart with the career he left behind in London, or on the wind-swept shores of Summer Island, with Ninni?
Christmas Island (A Very Hygge Holiday, Book 2)
In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable
After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.
Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.
Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.