A couple of weeks ago, I finished the first draft of my first book. It’s taken me three years but I haven’t always been very productive. And I’ve had other projects in between, taking up a month or two at a time.

What have I learnt? First and foremost that inspiration is nothing. If you know what to write: write.

Arse in chair, hands on keyboard. Write. It’s a job. Treat it like one.

If you don’t know what to write — find out. Brainstorm, outline, free-write, use my idea generator (which I built for myself for when I’m out of ideas). Whatever works. Come up with enough material to write out your current scene (and preferably a few more) and get to work.

This also turns out to be the exact advice given by published authors to aspiring writers for decades. Who would have thought they’d be right, hm?

My next project will be a short story marathon of sorts. I’m going to write one short story a week for a few months. Ray Bradbury said to do this for a year, because it’s hard to write 52 bad short stories in a row. Statistically, at least one of them should be good.

I expect ideas will be my biggest issue. How do you come up with one good idea every week?

Meanwhile, that first novel draft will be left to ferment in a figurative bowl on the figurative kitchen counter. The sticky mess of ingredients will begin to bubble and smell and perhaps eventually rise and go “splop” all over the kitchen. Or my hard drive. I expect the result to be messy.

But perhaps, like a sourdough, I can use it as the core ingredient of something more palatable. Like bread. Or a revised story draft with proper plot points and character arcs and all the little things I tried to create in the first draft but probably didn’t quite succeed with. Who does a perfect job the first time, anyway?

But that’s a problem for later. Right now, I’m getting ready for the short story marathon. Expect a lot of moaning and a certain amount of hair-tearing.