It’s As Simple As…

Elaine Roberts talks about how a whole new world opened up when she decided to write her novel.

report_writingMy writing is never far from my thoughts. Thank goodness typewriters are a thing of the past, I hate to think how much Tippex and re-writing would be involved. My laptop goes practically everywhere I do. My husband and I recently drove to North Wales to visit an elderly aunt and I even tried to write in the car, but travel sickness took over. A week later, I took it to Worcester when visiting more relatives. I don’t like to miss an opportunity to move my work on a stage. To be honest, I think I’m a little obsessive. As soon as people know I’m writing, I’m constantly being asked when my “best seller” will be published.

If only life was as simple as that.

I was asked recently how I manage to write enough to produce a novel when working full time and that is a problem, especially as my job requires me to use the logical side of my brain and my writing needs me to exercise my creative muscle. I am lucky to have a very supportive family and a husband who has relieved me of any household duties, which obviously gives me a very precious commodity, time.

My time used to be spent writing short stories for women’s magazines and while it wasn’t something I ever wanted to do, it was a quick win and helped keep my belief that I was a good writer. Time wasn’t an issue either because I could write a short story in a couple of hours, then I would let it sit for a while and then return to edit it. However, it is a totally different skill, as some writers will admit they struggle writing within a strict word count and vice versa. For me it’s working an apprenticeship. If I learnt to play the piano, that wouldn’t make me a concert pianist or maybe more appropriately, a GCSE in history doesn’t make anyone a historian.

Francesca and I At An RNA Event

Francesca and I At An RNA Event

Anyway, before I start ranting, back to the writing. It is underestimated how much work is involved in writing a novel. When you first start writing seriously, you hear phrases like: show don’t tell, the five senses, ensure that your plot, characters and your sub plots all work. Then of course there is the issue of avoiding the saggy middle, haha, that’s a bit late for me. Seriously, the saggy middle is all about making sure something happens halfway through your story, to carry your reader on, so they don’t put it down and never pick it up again.

It’s simple, if only.

I plan my chapters and the structure of my novels and that makes it easier to pick up and put down.


When I begin writing, it’s always difficult to know exactly where to start, so my first chapter usually gets rewritten about a dozen times, and then I also have a habit of changing the order of my chapters. This causes another problem because I then have to check if moving a chapter has a ripple effect to something I have already written. I once had a character discussing an argument that hadn’t happened because of such a move. It’s all about the attention to detail.

What I’ve discovered with my new work in progress is that I write in layers; that wasn’t planned, it just happened. I think that is because I’m trying something new and it is much more complicated than anything I have ever written before.

So the next person that says to me “I could write a book, I just don’t have the time,” I say go for it, even if it takes years. As with all work, until you’ve worked in somebody else’s shoes, you have no idea what’s involved.

Now where was I?

Once upon a time there was a….



10 thoughts on “It’s As Simple As…

  1. People (those who don’t write) always think it’s so easy don’t they. I admire your tenacity and dedication, Elaine, but I don’t think I’d try to use my laptop in the car! Above and beyond…

    • Haha, I have to say it wasn’t successful. I’m just aware that every moment I have shouldn’t be wasted if I want to succeed. Elaine

  2. Lovely blog, Elaine. As ever, your hard work leaves me feeling exhausted, and very guilty. I hardly wrote anything when I was teaching. Drumming great literature into the vacuous black hole of the male adolescent brain left little creative energy.

  3. I can only imagine Angela. Trying to teach teenagers, who usually have other things on their minds, must be difficult. Although there must be some that enjoy literature. I find working quite exhausting and I can’t decide if that’s my age or just the times we live in. My dream will be to write for a living, hence why I work so hard at it. Elaine

  4. Great post! And to answer those who say they’d write a book if they had the time, they have the same amount of time as anyone else, ie 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, etc. It’s how they choose to use their time that makes the difference.

    • Thanks Kath, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I would also like to thank you for your comment because it did make me think “oh yeah, that’s true”, which I know is daft because it’s obvious but sometimes it needs spelling out.

  5. A lovely, honest post, Elaine. I chuckled most of the way through it – relating to every word (even the piano lessons). Wishing you continued inspiration and writing time. BTW, I love your blog page – warm and friendly. I am glad I popped by.

    • Hi Nicola, I’m really pleased you enjoyed the blog post, I hope you will pop in and see us again. This is proof I never switch off from my writing as I’m writing this on my phone so apologies for any errors. Thank you for popping in and leaving a comment, the feedback is always welcome. Elaine R

  6. Elaine is now on a well earned holiday abroad, so if she isn’t able to reply to any (very welcome) comments on here, apologies. Hopefully she’ll return well rested and raring to go on her latest novel once more.

    I always appreciate how straight forward Elaine is about things, which I have to say makes her a delight to work with on this blog.

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