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Making my English teacher eat 75,000 words

Matt Gibson works in sports management, but spent most of his free time last year fulfilling a dream and writing that novel. Here he talks about his journey.

Ever since my English teacher laughed at me at school, for saying I wanted to write a novel, I became determined that I would eventually make him eat his words.

After spending a few years telling people I was going to write a novel, and them telling me I wouldn’t, I eventually bit the bullet and spent last year writing “Bleeding Green – A season on the run with Real Calcio.” See www.bleedinggreenrealcalcio.com.

What to write about

Writing a novel takes time and perseverance, so you really want to write about a subject that you have an in-depth knowledge of, or are passionate about. My main passion is football and having been a player manager of a Sunday football team for fourteen years, which spent the last four years getting thrashed, I decided I would write about a fictional season.

How to go about it

Having never written a novel before (I failed my A-Level English – perhaps my teacher was right to doubt me), I first bought the Writers and Artists Yearbook which lists publishers, agents, the publishing process, seminars to attend, how to market your book and pretty much everything else you could possibly wish to hear.

I also, through a friend, came across an editor, who had written football books before, and he agreed to help me with the novel and he put me in contact with a publishing company. I really recommend getting an editor – you will have to pay for one but it is a necessity and will be worth the money.

Be disciplined

I have a full-time job so I made sure I would dedicate each Monday, Tuesday and Sunday evenings to writing the novel. I would turn my mobile and television off, making sure I gave the novel my sole attention. Trying to write whilst watching Homeland doesn’t work but I do recommend lots of coffee!

It is very important to get others’ thoughts on your novel after each chapter. What you think is funny, may not be, to ninety percent of other people. I would advise against giving draft chapters to close friends, as they can tend to say it’s great, just to please you. If you do, perhaps ask them what they think is wrong with the chapter, rather than what is right.

Writers’ block

There will be days when you feel like you can’t put any words to paper. This happens and I would advise you to stop, even if it is one of your designated days. It is much better writing on another day than feeling you have to write a few thousand words on your designated day, which will more than likely be of a lower quality, as you are writing for the sake of writing.

I also felt like giving up a few times but I always told myself that writing a novel is marathon not a sprint and looked at the novel in terms of chapters, not the fact that it had to be thousands of words. If you make sure each chapter is thorough, the word count will take care of itself.

When the book is published

This is when you must really start your marketing drive. If you haven’t already got a website, twitter or Facebook page, now is the time to get one. Tell all your friends about your novel, organise a book launch party, send copies to magazines and journalists asking them to send a tweet or give your novel a review if they liked it. I also sent a few copies to footballers asking them to send a tweet if they liked the novel, just tweeting celebrities can appear lazy and it’s doubtful they will respond. The more you promote your book the more copies you will sell.

Don’t give up – it’s worth it in the end

As mentioned there will be days when you want to give up but don’t worry this happens to everyone. Persevere, stay disciplined and listen to your editor. When you finally have the novel in your hands with your friends saying how much they liked it, coupled witha few good reviews you will feel it has all been worth it! Good luck.

If you are interested in finding a writing coach or someone to keep you on track as you attempt your own novel, we’ve met a few high-quality published editors – for more details, please contact adele@escapethecity.org.

  • Paul

    congratualtions and thanks for the advice as I have been planning on writing a novel for the last year

  • Paul Knight

    Half way through the book and have been in stitches. Great read.

  • Ben

    Two days with a smile on my face, a great read and an inspiration to anyone who thinks they havent got a book in them.

    Matt Gibsons “Bleeding Green” is a must read for anyone who enjoys (or enjoyed) after hours sport and the crack that goes with it!

    http://www.bleedinggreenrealcalcio.com/

  • Ian

    its great to read about the real life of football instead of the Millionaires that prance around on TV. A lot of fun is had all over the UK by thousands of people every Sunday and I have had a good laugh reading about the misfits in Mat Gibsons team, it sounds just like mine…when i could still play and wasn’t so old!

  • Tina

    This book is laugh out loud funny..and just goes to show anything is possible when you put your mind to it. I hope you’ve sent a signed copy to your English teacher!