Today I’m interviewing Tim Lewis about his writing process.
Tim is a former IT manager who, after the death of his wife, decided to try and become a successful author, writing time travel and then later fantasy books.
In his efforts to try and work out how to sell books online, he became fascinated by using social media for business and to improve your life. He runs the Begin Self-Publishing podcast and in his #1 Amazon Bestselling book Social Media Networking he explores how to use social media to build connections to get ahead in your career, personal life and business. He’s also the host of the #indieAuthorChat Twitter chat that he runs on behalf of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Tell us something about your books.
I’ve written seven books, the first free are time travel novellas in the Timeshock series following a main character of Nigel Saunders who suffers from the effects of the actions of himself in a parallel universe who has invented a time machine and spends all three books solving issues related to his alternative self’s actions across history.
In my second series of fantasy books, the Magpies and Magic series, I follow the story of three magpies from our world who are thrust into an alternative universe of dragons, magic and intrigue and it follows their journeys through the world in an attempt to return home, while simultaneously defeating a great evil threatening the other universe.
My last book is totally different and is a non-fiction book, Social Media Networking, where I interviewed 20 people about their experiences of using social media to get ahead in their careers, find business opportunities and find love.
It was written because I realized while I’d singly failed to sell books with social media I had achieved a great number of paid work and social opportunities out of it. It’s a book about using social media for making connections and then how to use those connections to help your aims in life.
What inspires you to write? Who are your favorite writers?
I’m an intensely creative person and writing books is just another way to express that creativity. My issue is not so much being inspired to write but rather to formulate those ideas into a consistent whole and create the book.
My favourite writers are mainly in the non-fiction area and most of my fiction inspiration comes from TV and movie media, which is one of the reasons I made the switch to writing non-fiction.
How do you start writing? Do you have a process or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
I spend some time (often months or years) formulating a clear plan for a book in my mind and then I create a plan of each of the sections in the book in an outline. Once the outline is complete I then attempt to write the first draft of the book as fast as possible.
How has your writing process changed since you started writing?
I’m more mindful of the importance of having a strong outline, and keeping a note of details, especially in difficult track areas. Anything you can avoid going back and wasting time checking is time worth spent investing in upfront.
How long does it normally take you to write, and what proportion of the time is spent doing what?
The first draft of most of my books has been written in under 30 days. But as I said a considerable amount of time I spend on the plan, which can be months or years. I want to write the first draft as quickly as possible to get the book done and also to keep all the details in mind as I write.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Probably the planning and writing stages. I love when you suddenly get the last detail in a plan that makes a story or a book “work” and you know you are actually going to be able to finish the book.
Do you involve other people in your writing, as collaborators or editors? How do you make this work?
My mum, who was an editor in the 1960s, edits most of my books, and I employ a designer to create my covers. It’s certainly a project management task though, which is something all self-publishers need to be.
Do you have any writing tips you’d like to share with readers?
For me, I would say the best writers do plan. They might not have a formal written outline, but the plan exists somewhere, if only in their head. Without a clear plan you end up with lots of false starts to sections and a huge amount of rewriting is required. Keep the rewriting to the plan, where it’s a lot easier to rewrite sentences than whole chapters.
Anything else I haven’t asked you about?
Personally as well as the usual writing books writers talk about I can’t recommend screenplay books enough for fiction authors. They helped improved my story structure no end.
Thanks Tim for taking the time to chat to me this week. It’ interesting to see that most of the authors I interview are firm believers in plotting – although not all!