Rachel and I first connected as she was a listener of the show, and I was delighted to chat to her about her writing success. Rachel suffers from chronic illness, M.E and Fibromyalgia, and we talk about writing books under challenging circumstances.
For more information on Rachel and her books – and for tips on writing with a chronic illness – visit RachelBurtonWrites.
IN THE INTRODUCTION
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One from Karen Heenan (via Twitter) about writing a synopsis. I run through the differences between a synopsis, blurb and pitch, and recommend a book I found very helpful back when I was submitting to agents:
And one from Catherine Barbey. Catherine has published her first novel – congratulations, Catherine! And is getting fabulous reviews, but is finding it really difficult to write the next book in the series.
‘How did you know, after you got your first book published (which I know wasn’t the first you’d written) that you wanted to carry on and keep writing? How did you know that you weren’t just a ‘one-hit wonder’? And how did you get over ‘second book syndrome?’
If you have a question you would like answered on the show
IN THE INTERVIEW
‘It felt very like I had no idea what I was doing… It felt very overwhelming, like I was totally out of my depth.’
On writing her first book:
‘The last few chapters of that book seemed to take a hundred years.’
Rachel’s writing process:
‘I write the end first. So when I plan a book, I know how it opens and I know the ending… When the going gets tough which, for me, is usually around 40,000 words in, I go and write the end. I write the last 5000 words, and then I’ve got something to aim for.’
‘I’m not a huge believer in necessarily writing the book in order. Some scenes require more research, some are harder than others… So just leave it and move on… Don’t just sit there hoping they will miraculously write themselves, just move on and write the next bit; keep it flowing, keep going.’
‘Little and often is the key because it gets you in the habit of putting words on the page.’
‘It is hard to get to the end so make your end somewhere you want to get to.’
‘There are days when I will do anything rather than write.’
On writing with a chronic illness:
‘I do suffer from chronic pain issues… I do have to make sure I’m sitting in the right chair. I also have to take very regular breaks and I can only write for a little bit of time and then I have to get up and walk around the room or I will get stuck in a chair shape for the rest of the day.’
‘In terms of energy levels, that has been hard. It’s hard to work out when you can and can’t write. With M.E one of the biggest problems is brain fog and when your brain is foggy, concentrating is hard, focusing on something for a long time is difficult.’
‘There are times when I’m not well enough to work at all, but I do find that even if I’m just writing a few notes about a character… I find that really does help my illness and helps me find a bit of energy and joy.’
‘Creativity does energise me.’
‘With chronic illness than can be a lot of feeling bad about yourself, feeling that you’re not adequate enough. You compare yourself to other people who aren’t ill and the word counts that they do…’
‘You can’t compare yourself to someone who doesn’t have the same setbacks as you.’
‘Be honest with everyone. I think we want to hide our chronic illness sometimes, we think people will judge us… Think we’re not capable. But I found when I was honest with my editor and my agent, they were absolutely fine with it.’
Thanks for listening!
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