Writing Advice
- Introduction
- A room of one's own?
- Where do you get your ideas?
- Where do I begin?
- What books do I need?
- How important is research?
- Should I join a writers' circle?
- Literary terms
- Typing it up
- Sending it off
- Penbenders
- Creating characters
- Constructing the story
- Short Fiction

A room of one’s own?

Virginia Woolf was being deliberately provocative when she said that ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’, but in a way it’s true, and not just of women.

Money is important, so if you have a day job, hang on to it, even if you do get published. Then, if you start making money from writing, you may actually see it mount up, rather than disappear as soon as it hits your bank account. But you don’t need money to write. You can make up stories for nothing, write them down for next to nothing. Even typing them up needn’t cost a lot.

So do you need a room of your own? If you have a family of small children demanding to be fed, washed, clothed, put to bed, patched up, taken to school/swimming/kick-boxing classes, have their nappies changed, whatever, then you doubtless feel that you do; most writers need to be alone with their thoughts, and, come to that, their mutterings and posturings as they act out bits of business.

But all you really need for that is solitude, and that’s where early rising or late retiring comes in. When the house is quiet, when the double-glazing salesmen are tucked up in bed, when no one else is around, write.

It doesn’t have to be too demanding; you don’t have to pass up too much sleep. Two hundred and twenty words a day for one year adds up to an eighty-thousand word novel. I know, because I did it. And while I don’t claim to have written a regulation two hundred words every session – I was never that organised – I did do it, and so have many other writers.

I was a late retirer; my ennobled colleague P D James was an early riser. I don’t know which end of the day he chose, but Colin Dexter wrote the Morse books in his spare time, so it can be done, and done successfully.

By anyone. Woman, man, teenager, nonagenarian, married, single, university graduate or high school drop-out. Writing is by far the most accessible profession in the world. Anyone can have a go.

With or without money and a room of one’s own.


Jill McGown
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