Guest Blogger, Claire Haywood, tells us about “New Starts”

It’s coming to that time of the year when we look back and see what we have achieved (or not!) and start to think about the new year. This year, I made a start on writing. It wasn’t something I planned to do. I am a reader, a crazy reader too – I always have at least 3 books on the go and through my book group I have been introduced to lots of different genres, so I’m not fussy about what I read, I’m like a literary magpie. But writing? I guess I may have thought of it, and enjoyed it at school, but I hadn’t made a start.

But then there was Jo. A lovely friend from junior school where we shared desks, a love of learning, whizzing through the English activities, and ponies.


I was heartbroken when we went to different secondary schools, but life continued and we immediately and inevitably lost touch. This year, I am so thrilled to say that she’s back in my life and we have made a new start on our friendship. We have so many years to talk about, 3 children between us, many ups and downs concerning our lives to share and it is writing that has been the glue. Jo, Write Romantic and writer has lit the fire for my new start – writing.

Typically for me, I started by getting organised. I thought seriously about writing longhand, I love a sharp pencil and some beautiful paper to get my ideas down on, but I realised quickly that this wasn’t going to work. So I bought a lap top, just for my writing. An extravagant gift to myself but one that felt I needed to get started. I read all the old posts on this blog and wondered at the journeys of the writers here, how they made their starts, what they have achieved, the excitement and possibility of being published. All the time I questioned whether that could that ever be me? And then there was the most obvious thing, the thing that I could not organise, I needed an idea. This is where the support from my wonderful Write Romantic friend has been invaluable. Jo allowed me to realise that my prize winning idea, the thing that I was excited about writing and made me sign up for the ride, really wasn’t going to work. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and think about what I could bring to a story by looking at my life experience and now I am decided on my book. The subject is something close to my heart and something I know about, so I am starting from a point of confidence. I am still not sure which direction it is going in, but I understand that this is okay!

I joined the Nano event in November and one evening I wrote my first thousand words. This is where I started to learn about myself as a writer and I realised that for all my organisation I had no idea how to set my ideas out so they look and read like a book. I have lots of characters and getting them into the story was causing me trouble. So, I started again and re-wrote the start of that first chapter. Nobody told me that you have to have guts and bravery for this writing lark, because once you have written a little bit, you need someone to read your words to see if you are on the right track. I chose my English teacher husband, he was there and I needed an immediate answer that he thought my writing was, at the very least, okay. I have never felt more exposed. I couldn’t stay in the room when he was reading and made excuses for my style (shouting from the kitchen!) and the fact that I hadn’t written anything since school. I realised that it actually mattered to me. When I returned to the sitting room, he was smiling, and now I know that I have made that start.

I am not finding it easy. I have a crazy busy job and arrive home most nights far too late to make much of anything. I failed to make the grade with Nano and did not get beyond that first chapter, a very weak effort. We are now moving house and so not much will be achieved in the next few weeks. However, life will settle and I really, really want to try to complete my book. I have amazing support with Jo (who has offered to read for me from now onwards) and my husband who is also a frustrated writer. This blog has been great too as just knowing that others find it a challenge makes me feel like I am among friends.

So, what about next year? Well, I am determined to make some new starts for myself. The first will be to join the New Writers scheme in January – I actually have my alarm set for January the first, I am that determined to get my application in. Then the timescale is set for me, I need to come up with that book and get it finished by August, I am sure that this is something that I can achieve and I have the best part of eight months to get there. Nano in 2014? Yes, I think I will do it again and this will be my second book, for which I already have an idea and change of genre, and that one will be teen fiction. I hope that in the next few years I will be able to add ‘writer’ to the things that I do and I know that when I do get there I will have never felt so proud.



12 thoughts on “Guest Blogger, Claire Haywood, tells us about “New Starts”

  1. I am so delighted that you have decided to write, Claire, and so proud to be part of that. I really can’t wait to read your first few chapters when you are ready and I know that we are going to share many more coffee shop discussions about writing and life – with lots of cake and laughter thrown in for good measure! xx

  2. Hi Claire, good to ‘meet’ you. I can remember all those feelings and how scary it was to see just a blank white screen. Life got in the way for me too lots but I’m finally finishing my second. One thing though, I stayed up till midnight to get my application in a few years ago and I’m so glad I did. Mine went through at 12.02 am and I got in, a friend signed up at 12.15 and it was full up!
    Best of luck though! Lynne

  3. Welcome Claire! Thank you for joining us. First thing to say is that you are a writer! You’ve written an engaging and honest piece and you’ve started work on two novels. You may not be an author yet (i.e. published) but you are definitely a writer. The idea part was the hardest for me too but, once it came, the creativity gates opened. It wasn’t great, though. I had no idea how to “properly” write and I’m still learning but, if it’s something you think about all the time even when you can’t get to a PC or notepad, then you’re a writer and you’ll finish your first book, then your second, then ….

    Keep going. You have an amazing support in Jo. She’s read my debut and gave me some fabulous and constructive feedback so you’re onto a real winner there. I’d be delighted to help in any way I can too. My tip on NWS is get your email prepared and ready in drafts then send it the minute it turns midnight between 1st and 2nd Jan (think that’s the deadline).

    Wish I lived closer so I could join you and Jo for chats about writing and lots of cake!

    Julie xx

  4. Welcome to the crazy world of writing 🙂 I can tell by your blog post you are destined to be a writer it’s brilliant. I’m glad that you have Jo back in your life to give you encouragement and support, every writer needs this as it can be such a lonely life. You are on the right track though and I bet once you start you won’t be able to stop, look what’s happened to us 😉

    Good luck,

    Helen xx

  5. Hi Claire,
    Lovely for you to join us on here…good luck with you NWS application in 2014. It’s certainly popular and a great scheme for supporting new writers.
    I think that life always gets in the way for writers…then again, life gives us the experiences to write about or to trigger ideas.
    Good luck and perhaps I’ll see you at the conference in 2014.
    Helen R x

  6. Hi Claire,
    That was a really well-written and honest blog post. I certainly think you can write. Good luck with applying to the NWS. I agree with Julie. Get the application ready in your drafts and be ready to press the send button at one minute past twelve. It really does fill up so fast and you wouldn’t want to miss it. Joining the NWS helped me to feel like a “real” writer, and it’s through the scheme that I made some lovely friends who have supported and encouraged me. The critique is invaluable. I did NaNo too when I first decided I wanted to get back into writing after years of not trying. I had an idea and a cast of characters and I enlisted on NaNo and spent the October making a story plan. That was in 2011 and I completed NaNo with a first draft complete, but believe me the book has changed so much since that first draft it’s barely recognisable. I sent it into the NWS reader in August and got very positive feedback, but there were still some things that needed changing which only a fresh pair of eyes could see. I have put book one away until after Christmas when I intend to start work on those changes ready to re-submit next year. In the meantime I have been working on book two and even have some of book three drafted, as well as ideas for three more books. So, you see, once you get started it really snowballs! Good luck with the house move. I moved in November which has delayed my writing quite a lot. It really is a stressful process even when it’s something you really want so don’t be too hard on yourself. If you really want it you will do it! Hope you are very happy in your new home, and hope to see you in the list of new NWS members in the next Romance Matters magazine!
    Best wishes
    Sharon x

  7. Hi Claire
    Thanks for sharing the start of your writing journey with us. You’re so lucky to live close to Jo and to be able to meet her for coffee and chats. She’s an inspiration and I’m sure will be a great support to you in your writing. I honestly think getting started is the hardest part. Once you’re bitten by the writing bug you’ll probably find that you won’t be able to stop. I hope you’ll come back to the blog and tell us how you’re getting on.
    All the best

  8. Lovely to meet you here Claire and your blog post was brilliant. Don’t wonder if you are going to be a writer, you are. All you need to do now is follow that dream we are all after, the dream of being a published writer.
    Also, do be at the computer at midnight on New Year’s Eve, because the NWS really does fill up that fast!
    I hope to see you hear again soon and wish you well.

  9. Wow! Thank you all so much for your wonderful responses, I am thrilled that you liked my blog post. It was such an honour to be asked by Jo to write a post and so to have such encouraging feedback is an amazing bonus. Thank you also for your tips about the NWS – I knew that it was popular but really didn’t realise that it was a minute past midnight type of affair. I thought that doing it some time on January 1st would be fine! No problems though – I will stay up to get it done and hopefully secure a place. In fact, I’ll be going to check everything on their website concerning application after finishing this. Wishing you all a lovely Christmas and a productive new year with your various writing projects, I can’t wait to find out about what you all are up to and maybe to read some of what you have written.
    Claire xx

    • Claire, you are welcome to come back and post on the blog again whenever you like 🙂 We are all so thrilled that you will be joining us on the NWS and we look forward to hearing about the next stage in your writing journey very soon xx

  10. Claire has asked me to pass on her thanks to you all for your lovely comments and the boost that they have given her. Here’s hoping she makes it into the NWS in the next couple of days… xx

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