Questions People Ask About Writing by Ashley Howland

When people discover that I write books and have been published they love to ask questions. Funnily enough they are often the same questions. I guess it's natural to be curious and I can honestly say I try to answer them as best I can. Sometimes though I feel like guarding my writing and the process. Then I remember that I have learnt so much from fellow writers and more to the point when I guarded my writing I never managed to get my stories finished. It was only when I opened myself up and began to share that I had the confidence to complete a story, have an editor it and then finally send it to a publisher. That first story did get published! I guess I need to think about my journey and share what I have learnt. So here I will answer the three most frequent questions I am asked…

The first is why I write…. It's one of those crazy questions, people ask, but probably don't expect an answer. To me it's simple – I write because it's fun. That's basically it. I love to create characters, places and plots. It keeps my imagination growing! There is a bit more to it than that. I have stories in my head that need to be told and I love to share these stories with young people. They are the best critics. If you can make them smile and laugh you know you are onto something good.

Then I get asked if it is hard to write. My answer: writing is easy. It's the publishing part that's hard. The editing, rewriting, editing and rewriting again. Then the formatting, the checking, fixing and reworking of the story. That's not just hard, it's long and time-consuming. However, it is completely worthwhile. It still amazes me to see my name on the cover.

The next question is how do you find the time? That's always fun to answer. The simple one is I don't find the time. I have to make it. There is no other way around it. Life is busy. I work full time, have kids, dogs, try to stay fit and enjoy downtime. Writing can be part of that downtime because it is an escape from reality. Sometimes it can feel a bit like work, especially when I am editing. That's not always fun, but it is all part of the process. I guess the real answer it I manage to make writing fit into my life. I develop ideas with my kids, we go out and talk about stories when we visit different places. We take photos and develop characters in our day to day lives. Then, of course, I read my drafts to them, by doing this they help me with the whole writing process. That helps with the finding time.

My personal favourite question is actually not a question. People often tell me they want to write a story and publish a book. To which I have one reply…

This question or statement makes me laugh. I think if you really want something you have to go out there and get it. Last year I published an anthology made up of stories written by a talented group of students at my school. At the book launch, I was asked to do a speech. I told everyone there (about 100 people) that being a writer is really about being brave and having courage. To have your story published is to open yourself up to the world. Anyone can read it and review it. There is your story, your heart and soul. Then, of course, someone might hate it….The flip side is someone might love it. The question is do you have the courage to find out?

I would love to know how other writers answer those questions or if you are asked something else? I guess everyone has a story to tell, some of us are just stubborn enough to actually get it told. If you want to see more of my ideas and writing advice you can check out my blog: ahowland.org/wordpress

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Thursday, 24 October 2019

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