National Writing Day 2023
Friday 23rd June is National Writing Day, an annual celebration of people putting pen to paper in order to share their imagination, knowledge and experiences.
We thought this would be a great opportunity for Fay Bloor, our Grief Counsellor and author of two grief activity books, to share her experience.
“I suppose the first thing to say is that I never thought I’d publish a book.
It wasn’t a life-long ambition, nor was it never on my horizon, it just sort of happened. That said, I’ve always loved reading and language – I’m the annoying one in the office that is a sometimes tad obsessive over correct grammar and punctuation (I’m definitely going to have to get this thoroughly proofed now!) – so that will have definitely helped.
My first book, Missing Someone Special, which is a grief activity book for children came about through Lockdown, as I’m sure many recently published works did. I’ve seen a few similarly themed activity books over the years but always wanted to create something a little unique, that encompassed my experience of working directly with bereaved families at the worst times of their life. When the first lockdown hit, I found myself with a bit of extra time, as many of my usual duties were on hold, so I began just drafting and after much procrastination, it was finished!
I’d drafted the book believing that at most, we would print it in-house for the families we care for. So I was bowled over when Helen Wathall, our managing director, encouraged me to look into getting it published and professionally printed. Self-publishing was quite the adventure, there’s more to it than I’d ever have thought, but it was good fun. So much fun in fact, that I did it all again last year, with Missing You, the adult equivalent of the first activity book.
Anyway, pushing my Imposter Syndrome resolutely to one side, here are some snippets of advice I would pass onto someone writing their first book:
- Find inspiration – If you are not inspired, it’s going to be hard work. I’d recommend instead spending that time reading/watching/listening to related material that inspires you, or talking to others with relevant experiences. It can be frustrating to do this when you’re eager to get going, but I found it to be more productive than staring at a blank Word Document for hours.
- Move your phone out of reach – This one only counts if you’re as easily distracted as me, but sometimes if I’m struggling to word something I’m tempted to reach over and mindlessly scroll, or it’ll ring and I’ll wind up instead working on a completely task. Of course, this point can be true of any distractions that you’re prone to, sometimes I definitely need blinkers on and seem to be distracted by everything.
- Use the resources available – I had no idea how to self-publish, and would still be as clueless without the wealth of knowledge available in books, YouTube videos and the internet. A website I found particularly helpful was https://www.publish-yourself.com/, as it broke down various steps into simple and digestible language. There are also plenty of forums and online groups with others in a similar situation, though use these with caution – they can be off putting if the members are using it as a place to vent.
- Change up your environment – I found that working from the same desk all the time dried up my thoughts. If you find yourself struggling with motivation, try changing up your writing environment now and then, perhaps working from a café or other office if possible.
- Listen to your cheerleaders – My books would still be a Word Document in the corner of my Desktop if it weren’t for the fabulous people around me boosting me back up in the moments that self-doubt hit. I’ll always be grateful to Helen Wathall for believing in me enough to get my works published, and for all the friends that spent their own time proofing each page. Those around you can be vital in the writing process, make sure you’re listening to the right kind of voices.
I hope you find these tips helpful with your own literary creations, can’t wait to see your titles on the shelves one day too!”