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Doing what you love

3rd March, 2015 Miscellaneous
The Old Cataract Hotel

The Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan. I can’t think of a more perfect place to write. Agatha Christie thought so too. Photo: Terrie Birch

I was once asked how I could turn out so many books so quickly. Well, apart from Triplite and Silver Genie, which I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, when I was asked this question some years ago, this is what I came up with. And it’s still relevant today. It can be applied to anything in life, not just writing books.

  • avoid procrastination

I know myself well enough to be aware that if I think ‘that’s an interesting question, I’ll answer that one day’, I rarely will. Life has a habit of moving on – fast. Although sometimes research opens up so many extra questions and possible formats that it can take a bit more time than I expected to start the actual writing. And I sometimes go back to a topic when there’s sufficient new material to warrant it.

So, get on with it, don’t wait for someone to ask, you have to approach them and to do that you need material down on paper, with structure and content not mere airy-fairy ideas. Visualise the finished book to set the intention and bring it into being. Now, or as soon as.

  • seize the moment

I always work better when I have enthusiasm around me. Working on a new book should be exciting, not a drag. So, if there’s something in the air that you happen to know about, get writing now. Research likely publishers or magazines and sell yourself. You’re more likely to get picked up by a magazine, in print or on-line, and if you don’t, well blog it.

  • Write what you know

Research is always time consuming but it can open up whole new areas within a subject and generate huge excitement. The research for my novels involved travelling in Egypt, sheer joy, and drew on years of experience as a past life therapist. Non-fiction publishers look for a fresh take on subject, or a title which latches onto a trend – well before the trend peaks (it takes approximately a year or even from delivery of mss to delivery into shops but ebooks are more instant). So I ‘recycle’ material with a fresh angle or a different viewpoint. The Soulmate Myth (originally titled Soulmates and Why to Avoid Them was a rewrite of a long out of print book but with a very different take from the previous time. I’d learned a lot since then, on many levels.

  • Rejection = an opportunity to improve

Rewrite, polish and improve. I have confidence in myself and my work but I’ve reworked ideas that didn’t get picked up first time and they’ve usually been successful.

  • Know your market thoroughly – and if there isn’t one create it.

Before I wrote the Crystal Bible I’d searched for a small, easy to read directory that told me everything I needed to know about crystals. I’d been working with them for thirty years by then but, given my increasingly dodgy memory, it was getting harder to hold it all in my head. There was no such a book so I wrote it. And phoned more than 75 crystal shops to confirm there was a market before I approached Godsfield Press – for whom I had already written astrology and crystal books. That book was my passion and it and Volumes 2-3 which appeared subsequently are, along with other books, my pension fund:

  • Write out of need

    Love Reading

    Write about what – and where – you love. Reading The Crystal Wisdom Oracle at Knowlton Henge which appears in my Crystals and Sacred Sites book. Sacred sites and crystals. Two of my great passions rolled into one! Photo: Michael Illas.

I’m not one of those new-agey people who look down on money. I enjoy my pleasures too much. I gave up the day job when I started writing so need to support myself as well as having something to say that I am passionate about. Every new book is another opportunity to earn both money and increase my reputation – eclectic interests and more than one speciality are helpful too.

  • Discipline and focus

Even given the above, it was challenging to pack writing 5 books, a three year M.A. in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology with all the research and writing that involved, and giving workshops and lectures into four years awhile back ago. Now it’s 2014 and it’s only the end of the first week of February. I’ve already written Crystal Prescriptions 4, taught two workshops and created the handouts, written all the blogs on my website and twelve articles for The Other Side, an on-line magazine. So next clue:

Write something every day may be a cliché but it’s a good rule of thumb. I put aside a block of time and move my life around if necessary (although I make it a rule never to cancel a holiday or a workshop). I often write till midnight and it helps that I type at over 100 words a minute – although it usually takes another six week to edit and refine. Some people prefer to get up early to write, I don’t function before mid-morning and I’m most creative at night so:

  • Follow your own natural rhythm

If you’re a morning person, get up half an hour early and write. Spontaneously, freely. No censoring. You can edit it later. If you’re a night person that’ll never work. Keep a pad and paper next to the bed as good ideas often arrive in the middle of the night. Always make a note – a whole novel arrived for me that way!

  • Be yourself

And finally, being a Sagittarian with a great deal of multi-tasking Gemini energy in her astrological chart definitely helps! Life is a great adventure with much to discover and many questions to answer. I don’t need my sheets ironed, I’m happy to employ a cleaner every couple of weeks to do the boring chores, dishwashers are a brilliant invention, and I can’t see that I’ll ever retire despite being way overdue for a bus pass.


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