Tuesday, 6 September 2011

How to be a writer: Tips for Cats.

Some say that ‘every cat has at least one book inside them’. I certainly did (my first book Sex and the Kitty is out now!) But what of all the other cats out there, who dream of literary success but wouldn’t know where to start? Is a posthumous, ghosted biography the best they can hope for?

Not necessarily.

As a published feline (and a ghost-free one, at that) I feel well-placed to advise aspiring literary cats on how to make it in the cut-throat world of 21st century publishing.

So listen up, kitties. You want to be a writer? Here’s the deal.

First, you need an idea. This sounds deceptively simple. Of course it helps if you are a compulsively extrovert cat with a thirst for self-publicity, like me. Not all cats are so blessed. Whatever your personality, you will need to find your USP. There are a lot of kitties out there wanting to get published. What have you got to say that other cats (and humans) will want to hear?

When you’ve nailed your idea, you need to get an agent. And by agent, I don’t mean an owner with a house covered in cat hair who thinks the sun shines out of your litter tray. I mean a proper agent. One who knows how to harness your literary talents and, most importantly, what’s going to sell. She doesn’t need to be a cat lover, but she does need to know how to pitch your idea, and who to pitch it to.

Once you’ve got an agent behind you, it’s time to start writing. Brace yourselves, this is the tricky part. Now I know what you’re thinking: how hard can it be for a cat to knock out 60,000-odd words of literary genius? But trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

First things first, if you want to write, you need to establish a routine. Unnatural as it is for a cat, you must discipline yourself. You need to resist the continual feline urge to nap, at least until a rough draft of a chapter is on paper. If writer’s block strikes (and it happens to the best of us), I recommend heading outdoors for a hunting session. It’s amazing how slaughtering wildlife can get the creative juices flowing.

If you set your mind to it, you should be able to write two chapters a week. Reach your target, and you can reward yourself with a treat: an extra long wash/nap combo in a sunbeam, or some quality time with a fresh pouch of lamb chunks in gravy. Keep up this level of productivity and you should have a first draft to deliver to your publisher in twelve weeks.

One final thing: for goodness sake, learn to spell. Yes, I know the LOLcats get away with the phonetic mis-spelling conceit. A photo of ‘cyoot kittehs’ with an amusing caption might be enough on the internet, but, take my word for it, it won’t cut the mustard with publishing professionals. No excuses, kitties, You can haz Spellcheck.

I can’t write your book for you, but follow my simple rules and you too could be a published cat. Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Keeping aside your blog and the entire discussion, the title and that of the image you have carried of the cat with the keyboard is really fun i liked watching it and also reading the discussion.