How I Started Writing by Gillian Lee

I have always had an interest in creating characters, whether it is in creative writing or sitting in a café watching different people walking by, guessing their life story.

I have tried to start writing a book several times in my adult lifetime, only to be discouraged by the enormity that it held. Questions would cloud my creativity, such as ‘Who would want to read what I write?’, ‘Which publisher will want to publish it?’, ‘How much is it going to cost me?’ It was last year that I decided, ‘This is it, I am going to write my story!’ Full steam ahead, I enthusiastically put pen to paper and approximately 1000 words into the storyline I find myself being discouraged by the same questions that filled my head, yet again. Frustrated, I put away my story in the second drawer of my bedside cupboard and let the creativity fade away…for the time being.

Fast forward twelve months, and a telephone call from a friend who had started a new business changed my life – not wanting to sound too dramatic, but really, the excitement and hope that I felt when asked if I would be interested in writing a book, started my creative juices flowing into overdrive.

Opening the second drawer once again, I locate my unfinished notes and the beginning of a story yet to be told. From that moment, my characters were created and the story took on a life of its own. I love writing my book and I find myself getting lost in the characters and their thoughts as I write their dialogue. I’ve been told that writing a fictional novel is the hardest because everything is taken from the author’s imagination and thoughts. This hasn’t deterred me, in fact I love the challenge and the simple fact that I can make up whatever emotion the character is feeling, dress the characters in whatever clothes I like, add colours, texture and smell to distinguish thoughts, scenes and feelings. The freedom of creating a scene is what I enjoy the most.

Setting the story line was never an issue for me because I’m writing about all the themes I like to read about myself – friendship, loyalty, romance, adventure and suspense. I suspect the story line for my second novel will be harder to come up with. Another creative challenge! The characters I chose to create are combinations of personalities of people I have known with a little bit of imagination thrown in for good measure! Everyone has a little bit of these qualities, so it was all about putting the personality traits together to make up a character that suited the story line.

Someone asked me recently what I would have done differently. Taking into account the fact that I have not finished my book yet, I would say that I would have taken the advice of my friend and made a list of possible chapters with a brief description of what each chapter is about right from the start. I discovered that this was a good idea at about Chapter 5. You live and learn! Another thing I have learned is to spend time each day, even if it is a short amount of time, to write. Consistency is definitely what has kept my ideas coming through and sometimes it is hard to make time to write. I find that it is at these times that the momentum lags behind and the ideas are slower to follow. I am learning ‘the ropes’ as I progress.

As a first time ‘author’, I use this word loosely because I am yet to become an accomplished author, I still find that those initial concerns that deterred me from writing early on still creep back in and rear their ugly heads occasionally. The difference now is that I don’t listen to those thoughts as much and just concentrate on my enjoyment of writing. It is far more fulfilling that way!


Gillian’s story is an inspiration to all writers with aspirations to write their first book. If you have something to say – write a book!