And that’s a wrap! Last month, I finally submitted my short romance, Coming Home to local publishing house, Serenity Press.

Writing Coming Home hurt. Romance as a genre has complex requirements. In romance, the emotion has to be spot on. You have to pull and needle and wring out your readers’ hearts. If your readers don’t sigh, or cry, or gasp, and your story is romance, in my mind you’ve failed. I was pretty tough on myself writing this short romance and with the help of my writing buddies, I was able to pull through (only just).

Here are five lessons I learnt from writing Coming Home which may help you in your writing journey:

1. Finish. Finish your story. Do whatever you need to make it work but damn well finish. If you need to ditch half your story and start again, do it. You need to finish so you can go back and tweak and fix the things that don’t work.

2. We need friends to help us write well. Have a few trusted writer friends who can give constructive feedback on your drafts. They will be your sounding board and will give you an indication of what works for readers. My friend, Justin was my saviour during this process and even though romance is certainly not his favourite genre, he stuck with me.  Although I think he was slightly impressed when I fired a gun. Be prepared to return the favour.

3. Don’t be afraid to start again. Sometimes we need to scrap what we started and begin again. It’s okay, the words won’t fail you. So you’ve written the story but there’s so many plot holes, words are disappearing before your eyes, or the backstory of a minor character seems to be the most interesting event in your story, don’t be afraid to delete and start again. Make your characters stronger, give them deeper emotions and plenty of obstacles to overcome. Start again at the point where your story just began to get interesting. Don’t be afraid to begin again, you will be okay.

4. Marination time. Leave your work for as long as you can so when you come back to edit it’s with fresh eyes. I’m a big fan of marinading my work. Once you’ve had a period of time away from your story you’ll be able to see where the story falls down and you’ll be able to fix it. Whatever you do, make sure you give yourself time to let the story rest. Trust me, this really works.

5. Edit in a different font – it’s a way of tricking your brain into thinking it’s seeing something different and helps you see errors. I was sceptical when I first heard this advice. I changed my ms into a font I never use and I even changed the colour. Errors swam to the surface and it was much easier to edit and pinpoint formatting mistakes.

It will be a while before I hear if Coming Home was successful but to be honest, the process of writing this short romance was so valuable it was worth writing if only for me to learn these five writing lessons. Have you any writing lessons to share? I would love to hear from you. Comment below, and happy writing, peeps.