Welsh writer, Owen Jones, is from Barry, South Wales. He has loved language and languages all his life. This love manifested itself in learning nine languages and a constant stream of writing. However, for a very long time, he didn’t even consider writing books. They were for reading. He enjoyed writing during his formal education, and after that wrote letters to his friends and family. At twenty-eight years of age, he bought a computer, and began translating professionally. Ten years later, he became an office manager meaning more writing. The proliferation of the Internet was a boon for Owen. He started building websites and creating content for them.
By 2011, he had 145 websites and was writing 1,000,000 words a year as content for them. One day, he decided to write a book instead of all the content, and, so his first novel, Daddy’s Hobby was published in 2012. By 2018, he had written fifty-odd novels of varying length, and 125 manuals. Four years later, he had organised the translation and narration of many of those books, so that in 2022, he had one thousand books registered in his name at the British Library. Here are the top five tips of this prolific Welsh writer.
“If you want to be a writer, write for ten minutes every day”
You will probably not see the full sense of this advice unless you really think about it. For example, I cannot write for ten minutes every day. Why? Because when I start writing, hours fly by! I can get into the zone just by picking up a pen, or opening a new document on my computer!
Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation in your first draft. In fact, I can’t write like this, but I know that it does help many writers. The idea is that worrying about grammar slows the flow of creativity. I, personally, find that there are seconds to minutes when I have to pause to order my thoughts, and during these moments, I correct the typos that my word-processor highlights. I don’t worry about dates and fact though. If I refer to a factual event, I mark it with three question marks. It is easy to search for ??? during editing.
I found it difficult to commit myself to a point of view at first. I was frightened of opening myself up to ridicule. Make no mistake, when you write, whatever you write, you are telling people something about yourself, even if you don’t want to, or mean to. Your politics, your beliefs, your opinions and your thoughts will become apparent to an astute reader. Often, I am the last to know or see a deeper meaning in my writing. I often learn a lot from an insightful reviewer.
This is scary, or it is to me… less so now that ten years ago, but it is still worrying – a little.
I think that the best way around this is to use social media. Express yourself on Facebook, Twitter or whatever you like, and write articles for your blog (start one). People will criticise you, mock you, question you, and some might even agree with you or even praise you. You will learn to ride with the punches and enjoy the non-criticism.
You will probably be your own editor, proofreader, researcher publisher and promoter. That’s a lot of hats, but it means that whatever gets to market is your responsibility. It’s all yours… you have no-one to blame. If you spell February throughout your book as ‘Febuary’, someone will pick it up and mock you for the mistake. As common as it is, you are not allowed to make it. I was once asked to proofread a book by an acquaintance. It was humorous and well written, but the basic premise was the Celts versus the English. The problem was that he thought that the Welsh were basically English, not Celtic.
When I enlightened him, he scrapped the book, wasting nine months of work. And why? Because he hadn’t done ten minutes of research.
You will need to get facts right, and spelling and grammar are facts, whether you like it or not. The way to get around this is to read a lot and pay attention to what you read. Become a master craftsperson, don’t settle for remaining an apprentice. After all, books cost roughly the same whether the writer is famous or not, so would you expect a reader to want a well-written, professional-looking book, or your effort that is shot full of holes? Would you employ a carpenter who used second-hand, bent nails and a hammer from The Cheap Shop?
Be yourself, I am a Welsh writer, and write about what you are passionate about. Yes, there are authors, mostly historical writers, who will choose someone from history, research that person and then write a biography, but that is what they like doing. However, most novelists write fiction. I do, but there is always some truth in my novels, and I usually wrap in some factual events.
Don’t worry about what other people think. They will either love you or hate you. Either way, they won’t affect your life. So just do what makes you happy, as long as what you write can’t be ridiculed for inaccuracy. I don’t mean political or religious bias, you’re allowed that, but many facts are indisputable, so don’t make mistakes with them.
If you don’t already know what your style, genre or voice are, hopefully, you will discover them. It is quite important. Especially if you want to attract an agent and a publisher. Most writers struggle with this, but reading, writing and ‘publishing’ your work will help you discover them. Reading widely, especially, helps you develop your own style and voice as a writer. You should read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays. You should also read magazines, newspapers, blogs, and websites. This gives you an idea of what other people are doing with language.
I write because I love words. I love to follow an idea. They’re my lifeblood. I like to learn, so research is a pleasure for me. I write for myself, and for others. I write to share my thoughts and feelings. I write to entertain, and to educate. I write to inspire, and to motivate. I write to contemplate, and to understand. I write to connect, and to communicate. I write to create, and to discover. I write to live, and to learn. I write to laugh, and to cry. I write, because many people don’t listen.
I am a Welsh writer.