In writing a novel, it is not just your protagonist that embarks on a journey but you, walking alongside your fictional companion like a medieval hero and his chronicler. This is a long road so imagine it as you like; perhaps carrying a shield upon your back and a sword in your hand, hiking in the woods with your best friend, or maybe doggedly pushing a shopping cart with your kid through an apocalyptic wasteland armed only with a revolver and two shells.
I recently wrote a piece about the on-going debate regarding whether or not ‘creative writing’ can be taught, being inspired by Cheryl Whittaker’s interview with my old friend Ashley Stokes. As this is a major part of my professional life, I was, of course, arguing that it could, while suggesting that the gainsayers tend to confuse the art with the craft.
If you aspire to write a novel, this is the best advice you will ever get. Try to forget, for a moment, the Atlantic of ink spilled upon the subject of ‘creative writing’ and bear with me. The truth is not always hidden at the bottom of the ocean. Whatever you are writing – especially if it’s a book-length project, whether fiction or non-fiction – I cannot overstate the importance of working on it every day.