1. Make time
“Decide when you’re going to write. Don’t be casual and only do it as and when it suits you. Don’t think you can write a novel after you’ve done a hard day’s work, it’s insulting to those professional novelists who spend their time doing nothing else.”
2. Be disciplined
“For example, I write from 6-8am, 10-12am, 2-4pm, 6-8pm. I keep that routine up for 40-50 days and handwrite every word. I then take a break and go back to it again a month later.”
3. Write what you know
“Don’t do vampires, wizards or ghosts because they’re in fashion. Jane Austen wrote about family life in a small village and gave us six of the greatest novels ever written.”
4. Get some fresh air.
“I go for two long walks between sessions, for two reasons, physical and mental. The plot will buzz around in your mind while you are walking, continually churning over, which it can’t be while you’re actually writing.”
5. Do several drafts
“Do not imagine that the first draft of your book is the one that will be published. My latest novel, The Sins of the Father, was 14 drafts and took approximately 1000 hours.”
6. Be flexible
“If you think of something better half-way through the writing process, don’t be frightened to go back and incorporate it or even change the story completely.”
7. Seek opinions from professionals
“When you want an opinion on what you consider the finished script, seek it from a professional editor, an agent or someone you don’t know, through a third party. Do not seek an opinion from your wife, husband, partner, mistress or close friend. They will lie.”
8. Read the greats
“There is no substitute for reading great novelists, and instead of just enjoying their craft, think carefully about how they’ve achieved it? Do they spend pages on description, do they move the story on quickly, how do they make you turn the page? It’s all there in front of you if you look carefully, so at least when you try to do it, you have analysed how successful authors have managed it in the past.”
“If the body is a physical wreck – too much drinking, smoking, late nights – how can you expect the written word to be anything less than drunken, useless and tired?”
10. Don’t give up
My first novel, Not a Penny, Not a Penny Less, was turned down by 14 publishers, ended up with an advance of £3,000 and on first printing took a year to sell 3,000 copies. It is still extremely rare for a first book to be a bestseller.
Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician whose political career ended with his conviction and subsequent imprisonment (2001–03) for perjury and perverting the course of justice.
Alongside his literary work, Archer was a Member of Parliament (1969–74), and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party (1985–86). He was made a life peer in 1992.
His first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was picked up by the literary agent Deborah Owen and published first in the US, then eventually in Britain in the Autumn of 1976. The book was an instant success and Archer avoided bankruptcy, never being legally declared bankrupt. A BBC Television adaptation of the book was broadcast in 1990, and a radio adaptation was aired on BBC Radio 4 in the early 1980s.
Kane and Abel proved to be his best-selling work, reaching number one on the New York Times bestsellers list. It was made into a television mini-series by CBS in 1985, starring Peter Strauss and Sam Neill. The following year, Granada TV screened a ten-part adaptation of another Archer bestseller, First Among Equals, which told the story of four men and their quest to become Prime Minister.
Archer states he spends considerable time writing and re-writing each book. He goes abroad to write the first draft, working in blocks of two-hours at a time, then writes anything up to seventeen further drafts. It has been suggested that his books require extensive editing by others to make them readable.
In 2011, Archer published the first of five books in The Clifton Chronicles, which follow the life of Harry Clifton from his birth in 1920, through to the finale in 2020. Only Time Will Tell tells the story of Harry from 1920 through to 1940 and was published in the UK on 12 May 2011. In March 2011 he visited New Zealand as part of a promotional tour. His stops included an interview on Radio Live with hosts Willie Jackson and former-disgraced-MP John Tamihere.