Posted in Writing

So, You Think You’ve Got a Book in You?

13 years ago, I gave up my full-time day job to focus on my writing. Now I earn my living from writing and writing-related activities such as public speaking and teaching. This post is to encourage anyone who has often thought they’d like to write a book that it’s never too late to start – and how to go about it. 

Do you often think, “I could write a book, if only I had the time”? The long, cold dark nights of November make spending leisure time outdoors or away from home less appealing. So why not take the opportunity to start getting that book out of your head and down on paper?

Whether you plan to share your story with the world or want to write for your eyes only, here are some handy tips to get you started.

Debbie Young on the porch of her writing hut
I’m extremely lucky to have my own writing hut at the bottom of my garden – my husband’s lockdown project…

• Choose a space that will be your writing station. It doesn’t have to be a separate room. Jane Austen wrote her novels on a foldaway table in the corner of her living room.

• Block out time in your diary to write every day – it’ll soon become an ingrained habit.

Commit to writing just 10 minutes every day. Make a star chart and give yourself a star every day you achieve your goal. You’ll often find you’re writing for much longer, because within that short time you’ll get into your stride and not want to stop.

• Always keep a notebook to hand for jotting down ideas. Put it on your bedside table to ensure you remember those middle-of-the-night “Aha!” moments in the morning.

• Don’t try to write perfect prose (or indeed poetry) – just scribble or type away. A scruffy first draft is better than an empty page. You can fine-tune your words later.

• Write the sort of thing you’d like to read and be your authentic self. Every writer is unique, so don’t try to be someone else, unless writing fan-fiction –a great way to practise your writing skills.

Old upright bureau with paper notebook
My fiction writing desk

• Write from the heart and write what you know. What are you passionate/knowledgeable/evangelical about? Everyone’s an expert or advocate in some way.

Don’t judge yourself. Every published author has imposter syndrome at some point, so you’re in good company.

Don’t let your age put you off. Mary Wesley didn’t publish her first novel until she was 70, and her books have become modern classics. The best time to start is now.

• Put some fancy stationery on your Christmas wish-list to encourage you to keep writing in the new year…

Red vintage Parker pen in Victorian brass pen tray
My early Christmas-present-to-self – a Victorian brass pen tray and vintage Parker pen, bought at a local vintage flea market at prices too good to resist!

You don’t have to pen a bestseller to enjoy writing. You don’t even have to share your work with anyone else if you don’t want to.

But thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to put your work in front of an audience, whether in book form or on your own website or blog. Analogue is fine too. After all, you don’t have to look far to find a friendly parish magazine* that publishes local writers’ work in print…

Good luck, and happy writing!

*This post was first published in the November 2023 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News, for which I’ve been writing a monthly column ever since I quit the day job, as mentioned above. During the same timeframe, I’ve been writing my monthly “Young By Name” column for the Tetbury Advertiser

These columns are now collected into books every few years, and four volumes are now available in ebook for Kindle (read for free in Kindle Unlimited) and to order in paperback from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Cover of All Part of the Charm

cover of Still Charmed


The Charmed series includes my columns for the Hawkesbury Parish News.



cover of Young by NameCover of Still Young By Name
The Young By Name series contains my Tetbury Advertiser columns.


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

4 thoughts on “So, You Think You’ve Got a Book in You?

  1. Hi Debbie,
    Thankyou for this post of encouragement. Life sometimes gets very busy, and I have just been feeling my writing has got buried under the pile of chores and to dos. This is just what I needed to inspire me to get writing again. I live in Alberta Canada, and just published my first book, about building a cabin in remote BC. Which I need to get writing the second installment about. Imagine my surprise when you said your article was first published in Hawkesbury Parish News and Tetbury Advertiser, because I grew up in Tetbury and lived in Didmarton. I used to drive through Hawkesbury on my way to work in Chipping Sodbury every day. Amazing how small a world it is. So thankyou for the tips about consistent writing, and having a space to write. Thanks

    1. Hi Louise!

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful, and I hope it helps you get back on track for writing your sequel. I’m amazed to hear that you lived in Didmarton – I used to pass through Didmarton regularly on my way to work at Westonbirt School! I’ll check out your website to find out more about you. I have relatives in northern BC, by the way!

      Best wishes

  2. Hi Debbie
    You are God send. I was inspired by your writing big time. Now I am about to publish one, on Amazon of course as an amarture. I owe it to you. It will be published on the 27th of November if all goes well.

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