I was listening to the Test Match last Saturday when I should have been writing (see previous post!) and the guest on "View from the Boundary" was the bestselling novelist Sebastian Faulks (http://www.sebastianfaulks.com/) I must confess to never having read any of his novels although I did once own a copy of "Birdsong". I always enjoy listening to successful writers talking about writing though, so I tuned in.
I was surprised to hear that Sebastian made up his mind he wanted to be a writer when he was only 14. At that age, I'm pretty sure I didn't have any concept of there being such a job as a "writer" even though I was a prolific reader.
Sebastian also had some useful advice for aspiring authors. His tips were:
1. Write about what you don't know rather than what you do as it will stretch you more.
2. Write about what you're interested in and passionate about. (Good advice, especially for novelists, as it's a long haul if you've chosen a subject that doesn't really grab you.)
3. Keep plugging away.
My own advice, for what it's worth (as someone who is considerably less successful so far than Sebastian Faulks has been) is:
1. Don't quit the day job unless you are comfortable earning considerably less in one month than your paper boy/girl probably earns in one day.
2. If no one is giving you deadlines, give yourself some.
3. Never, ever give up.
If anyone has any other helpful tips for would-be writers, I'd love to hear from you.