Here you are folks, the first of my series of interviews which I announced earlier. Our guest today is a prominent figure in the field of freelance writing and editing. He’s published a lot of articles, training materials and written no less than 50 books including popular e-books. He’s also been tutor and examiner for a renowned institution, The Writers Bureau in UK. He is none other than Nick Daws. So without much ado, let’s welcome our guest.
Alfa King: Thank you Nick for having accepted to be interviewed for my blog readers and the world; and welcome to Alfa King Memories. Could you please introduce yourself and the services you offer?
Nick Daws: Certainly! My name is Nick Daws, and I’m a professional freelance writer and editor. I live in England, in the county of Staffordshire, with my partner Jayne, who teaches computing at two local colleges.
As a working freelance writer, I’m happy to turn my hand to most writing jobs. So far I’ve written over 50 full-length books, and innumerable published articles. I also write training materials, e-books, correspondence courses, advertisements, website copy, and more. I am also an award-winning short story writer.
Apart from my own writing, I have a particular interest in helping new writers. For some years I was a tutor and external examiner for The Writers Bureau, the UK’s leading correspondence college for writers. I’ve also written several self-study courses for writers for the electronic publishing house WCCL.
Alfa King: Ok, can you tell us how you got started as a writer?
Nick Daws: As far as I can remember, I have always been interested in writing. But I suppose if you twist my arm, I remember when I was about eight or nine co-writing a ‘novel’ in an exercise book with my then-best friend, Timothy Nesbitt (where is he now, I wonder?!). Even at that age I got a kick out of doing this, and my teacher must have been impressed as well, as she let us work on the book when we should have been doing other things instead. Maybe that was the point when I first saw the attractions of being a writer…
But if you mean how did I become a full-time freelance writer, that arose from a situation that occurred in my last ‘ordinary’ job, when I was working for a small national charity. The top job in the organisation became vacant, and despite some misgivings I was persuaded to apply. I didn’t get the job, but the woman who did made it very clear that she saw no place for a rival in the office. I would have been OK working with her, but she did everything she could to undermine me. From being an enjoyable job, it became a test of endurance, and it reached a point where I’d simply had enough. So I decided to take the plunge, hand in my notice, and become a full-time writer.
As it happened, that woman probably did me a big favour, as without that incentive I don’t know I would ever have been brave enough to take the leap. It took a while to establish myself as a freelance – I certainly wasn’t an overnight success – but now I think it’s the best thing I ever did.
Alfa King: In which category of writers would you classify yourself?
Nick Daws: I see myself as a working professional freelance writer – a hired pen, if you will. I’ll turn my hand to almost any writing project if there’s a suitable fee on offer! In practice this means I write mostly non-fiction, but I do very much enjoy fiction writing as well.
Alfa King: You have written countless number of articles, but also courses and books about the craft of writing. Which article, courses and/or book/s would you recommend in particular to an aspiring writer?
Nick Daws: As I mentioned earlier, I’ve written two courses for writers for the electronic publishing house WCCL. These courses are crammed with hints, tips and advice based on my twenty-odd years as a professional freelance writer. I’d recommend either of them to an aspiring writer, or both, depending on your writing interests.
Alfa King: So let’s take them one by one, if you don’t mind
Nick Daws: OK, the first course, Write Any Book in Under 28 Days, is aimed at anyone who would like to write a book in the shortest possible time. It features my unique five-step method for outlining and ‘blueprinting’ a book, which many hundreds of my students have used to help write their first book. But it also includes advice on other areas such as generating ideas, coming up with a title, editing your work, publishing and self-publishing, and so on. Write Any Book in Under 28 Days covers both fiction and non-fiction book writing.
Alfa King: What about the other course?
Nick Daws: My other course for WCCL is Quick Cash Writing. This was written to complement my book-writing course. It covers a huge range of shorter writing projects, and is aimed at anyone who wants to start earning money from writing as soon as possible. It starts with the quickest, easiest writing projects, such as readers’ letters and fillers, and goes on to discuss such areas as article writing, writing short stories, greeting card writing, and so on. Quick Cash Writing even discusses selling ideas for TV series and movies.
Alfa King: Anything else?
Nick Daws: You can read about both of these courses on my homepage at www.nickdaws.co.uk . There are also details here of my latest course, How to Win Contests, although this is aimed mainly at UK readers.
Alfa King: Now let’s come to a more practical aspect. If you had to give advice to a new writer/beginner, what would you tell them?
Nick Daws: First, practise your writing skills every chance you get. It’s only by practising – and getting constructive feedback on your writing – that you will improve. One thing any online writer today can do is start a blog, perhaps using a free service such as Blogger at www.blogger.com . A blog gives you the opportunity to write about anything you like, and is great for practising your writing skills, even if you aren’t immediately making any money from it.
Alfa King: Like I am doing?
Nick Daws: Absolutely. Second, you should read regularly and widely, not just ‘classic’ books but those that are being published today as well. Reading will help you to learn which techniques work well and which don’t. Reading modern books is also essential market research, to see what books are being published – and bought – right now. Read for enjoyment, but also read critically. Look at what works well in the book and what doesn’t, and consider how you might incorporate the lessons learned from this in your own work.
Alfa King: Is that all?
Nick Daws: Just one other thing, but it’s perhaps the most important of all: be persistent. If you want to write, don’t let anything divert you from achieving your goal. If your work is rejected – as it almost certainly will be at first – don’t take this personally, but vow to learn from it and do better next time. There’s a quote I love to pass on to my students: ‘Consider the postage stamp. Its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there.’ As an aspiring writer you need to be like that stamp, sticking to your goal through thick or thin, until at last you reach your desired destination.
Alfa King: Do you have anything else to add that you believe would be of interest to writers?
Nick Daws: Could I conclude by mentioning a couple of other websites which I hope your readers may like to visit?
Alfa King: Sure, go ahead, please…
Nick Daws: First of all, there’s my blog at www.mywritingblog.com . This is where I post my latest thoughts on the world of writing, and I also include news, product reviews, market information, and so on. You can subscribe to my blog if you like and get my posts sent to you automatically by email as soon as I make them.
Alfa King: And then?
Nick Daws: And second, I have a forum at www.mywriterscircle.com . This is a message board open to writers across the world. I run it in association with my publishers, WCCL, and it’s free for anyone to join. Forum members can post extracts of their work to get feedback on it from other members, and also post any questions they may have about writing and publishing. There is also a section called Writers Wanted, where new markets and opportunities for writers are regularly posted. It’s a friendly place, and new members are always assured of a warm welcome!
Alfa King: Thank you once again, Nick. It was nice talking to you. I do hope that your experience and advice will serve as inspiration to would-be writers and anyone interested in writing. I look forward to the pleasure of further collaboration with you in the future. Cheers.
Mauritian residing in Rodrigues, Amanoola Khayrattee (pen name Alfa King) is contributing writer and journalist to La Gazette Mag de l’océan indien and This Week News Mauritius.
Retired, former meteorological cadre, trade unionist and OSH consultant, Amanoola has written for in-house union and other journals, publications and magazines. He runs two blogs since 2007: “Alfa King Memories”, and “Le Journal d’Alfa King”. When he is not reading or writing, he is on a 10+ km daily hike in anticipation of his monthly trails.
Amanoola may be reached at [email protected].