Every author I’ve ever met has had a different process when it comes to writing. Some things are commonplace and others aren’t. I know some authors who like to write multiple books at a time, as it gives them the opportunity to switch projects when inspiration for one is lacking. This is essentially to make writer’s block a thing of the past. Does it work? Apparently! I am thinking of trying this myself, which might be a tad ambitious considering I only just started writing professionally.
Writing professionally. Wow. Still feels weird to say!
I’m not exactly sure what kind of writer I’d be if I was writing full-time. It’s nice to dream about it, of course. When I went on a three-week beach/writing holiday, I noticed that I got a lot of work done. I was rather strict on myself and made sure to be at my desk every morning to write by a certain time. You have to treat it like a job; otherwise I can’t imagine the work ever getting done!
Right now I have three jobs, including my authoring. I work a five-day, full-time job in the book industry and I work one weekend day at a cafe. My writing fits in everywhere else. When on deadline I write every evening that I can and on the weekends. I become that person who works seven days a week and has to say no to social plans.
A huge difference is that I love writing more than anything, so doing it after work and on my weekends doesn’t bother me. I’m working towards my dream, right?
It comes down to discipline, it really does. Discipline and great snacks. I do know this… If I’m ever lucky enough to become a full-time author, I will have to avoid having snacks around or I will definitely get fat. At this very moment I’m munching on some delicious Belgium chocolates as my kind-of entree before dinner. Oops.
The actual writing is a whole other story. Sometimes it can be so daunting putting together a whole novel – whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, there are always challenges. I was talking just today with Heather Morris, the author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and she was baffled at the idea of having to write fantasy. I explained to her that the feeling was mutual! How on Earth does she write historical fiction – with all those facts she has to get right? Where does she start?
It’s the same for all books. Where do you start?
When it comes to fantasy, do you start with the idea? The characters? The world? There are no rules. For Relic I started with the idea, the stone, the fear, the toxic magic that destroys lives. From that, the city of Edriast – and the world beyond – grew out of this one little spark. My protagonist had to fit the idea – so Kaylan was born and I moulded her to suit the kind of person I would need to tell this story – this idea.
There’s another story I’m tinkering on at the moment and for that particular story, it is the world that came to me first. A single vision, a single location, a single spark… and from that an entire world came to life. Literally. In my mind, I could see that one location surrounded by darkness. Then suddenly, it’s as if the world flooded out of that one single spot. The characters fell into place – like dropping a Sims character into a big, beautiful house that you just used all the cheat codes to build.
After those decisions have been made – and, trust me, not all of them have been made and not all will stay the same – I move onto asking myself how big the story is. Is it a standalone? Duology? Trilogy? A fifteen-book series?
For Relic, I knew it was a trilogy. I can’t explain why but I did. This other story I’ve mentioned feels like a duology to me. So once you’ve decided to write a series, what comes next? Writing a standalone fantasy sounds so hard to me because I can’t imagine doing all that world-building for a single novel. There is so much in the world of Relic that I want to tell… and only a fraction of it will make it into the story. That’s when sequels and spinoffs emerge, which some already have for me!
If you choose to write a longer series you are faced with other challenges, such as maintaining an interesting plot and creating a story arc that encompasses the entire series. Each book in the series has to have its own arc and then there has to be this big arc over the top of them all. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! I have no idea if I can do this, as this is my first attempt. Wish me luck!
Then I have to think about what kind of author I want to be. What do I want my writing to mean to people? What messages do I want to communicate? Each story will be different in this regard – the message – but I know I want to write stories that sink deep into people’s hearts. I want people to ask questions when they read my books. I want them to question what they know, what they feel, what they want. I want to challenge myself as a writer but I also want to challenge my readers.
I was speaking with Australian author Jay Kristoff the other day and he was talking about how his Nevernight series has affected his readers’ lives. People get his characters and quotes tattooed on their bodies (GOALS!), while others contact him to thank him because his books got them through a difficult period of their lives. As he was saying this, my mind was exploding. How incredible to think that people out there – strangers – could connect so deeply with something that a person has written on their couch (as Jay does). Here I am now in my pyjamas with wet hair and a sore shoulder… but maybe one day I’ll write something, in this dreary state, that will resonate with people for the rest of their lives.
I hope I can be this kind of author.
What I love most about writing fantasy though is that feeling of freedom and wonder I get when I write. I’m sure it’s the same across most genres of fiction but with fantasy it’s as if someone has taken the shackles off my imagination and said run free!
RELIC, Bronwyn Eley’s debut fantasy novel, is slated for release September 12.
About the author
Bronwyn joined the military right out of high school, where she learnt (among other things) to disassemble and reassemble a rifle blindfolded. After that she spent a lot of her time travelling around the world. Her favourite places (so far) are Scotland, Mongolia, Iceland and Ireland.
Bronwyn finally found her natural habitat when she landed her first job in the publishing industry. While she has always been a writer, it was only when surrounding herself with books that she realised her life’s dream was to become an author. Relic is her first novel.
Bronwyn lives in Sydney and spends her time eating chocolate, reading and practising her martial arts.