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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.


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Sunday 16 May 2010
What do you need to be a writer? There are the obvious – the ability to write, the need to. A pen, pencil and paper or a computer. Perseverance, stubbornness and a form of courage. But there are others too. I think you need adaptability, honesty, self-criticism and to be able to listen to your INNER VOICE (though my Anita Burgh Group people will scream at the latter.) Adaptability. You know what you want to write, you may even have done so, but then, the nightmare of finding that someone else is writing the same subject. Panic inevitably sets in, but there’s no need. Stay calm, look at your book where and how can you adapt yours and always remember that even if the subject is the same that the stories will be different. Adaptability is required when your editor makes suggestions that you don’t necessarily agree with, but she’s probably right and if you are adaptable then you will find a way round the problem. Honesty and self-criticism go hand in hand. The hardest thing to do is to judge your own work. But it is critical that you do. What I find is that when I first write something I think it’s fine, on rare occasions good; but I know it won’t last, that there is a settling down, and then the cracks begin to appear, it becomes rubbish. Although it can be true it is probably not as extreme as I thought – good writing or nonsense. What we have to learn is to be able to look at the work as if it has nothing to do with us, as if it were written by someone else – this is not easy to do. And that is when INNER VOICE steps in – your best critic, the most honest and the one you ignore at your peril. What bought all this on? 66,000 words into my larest novwl and that voice telling me that something was wrong. The easiest thing to do it to tell it to shut up, but that’s not a good idea. Many years ago I was writing a novel with a minor character called Alice. She kept interrupting and asking “Why aren’t you telling my story?” she became so obtrusive that I eventually gave in and told her she had a week to tell me. And did she! My novel became a trilogy which was my breakout. Alice, now one of the main characters, featured in all three books. Of course it wasn’t Alice telling me it was my inner voice, which. novice that I was, I did not recognise. So what have I done? It is almost a case of history repeating itself. Two characters began to push themselves forward – in other words inner voice was saying I needed more viewpoints. I’ve done that, the thesis of the book has changed and I’m enjoying it – for the time being – and fingers crossed it will work!


  1. Thanks for that Annie - I think I may be at that point with penderown - Demi may lose her voice and just be a character - that's what my inner voice is saying and ....

  2. Glad you are enjoying the novel again, Annie.

    I think the difficulty for some people is having the confidence to believe that the inner voice is right.

  3. I'd add another element: a purpose for all that writing.

  4. p.s. inner voice, like a good palate, comes with experience.

  5. Thanks again. So much content and advice in only a few paragraphs. I've got two inner voices, and one is yours!

  6. That was a really interesting blog, Annie, which goes right to the core of writing a coherent novel.

    Many thanks for it.

    Liz X

  7. Excellent post--and Jan Jones' comment about having confidence to believe the inner voice is spot on. This is going into our Friday round of of best articles This Week for Writers. Thanks for sharing this insight.


  8. What a great blog Anita. Fingers crossed for you indeed.

    I'm so glad to have found you.

    I've been thinking about turning three novel ideas into a 'Saga' trilogy but every time I sit down to work on one or the other of them, I stop after an hour or two. NONE of them are moving along. I have spent days mooching the web, browsing other writers for snippets of advice,inspiration; thinking...thinking some more.

    Now I've had a eureka moment and can see that one of the characters is jumping up, asking for the limelight! I didn't realise until I read your blog. But I'm not well at the moment and my writing is not up to par. I think that's another reason I can't progress it. It won't spoil if I jot the outlines in a notebook until I recover.

    And in the meantime, I shall add you to my roll call and pop by from time to time.

    warm wishes

    PS - I'm 43 btw and love that you did find publication until 50!