Imagine your place on the bookshelf of the future

Becky Walsh, editor, John Murray


An editor’s job is about so much more than just editing. If one of my authors is suffering from writers’ block, I am the soundboard, the person with whom ideas can be discussed and discarded. Writing is a solitary endeavour for the most part, so when you get stuck it can be helpful to have the input of someone who understands the nature of what you are doing, but who is also coming at it from a different angle. As an editor, I am invested in an author’s work in a different way – I am an outsider looking in – and so find it easier to identify things that aren’t working. And because I am a fresh pair of eyes on the manuscript, when writers’ block strikes I can make useful suggestions, help untangle a tricky plot or to offer ways to refine an idea. Sometimes I am just a medium though which an author can talk their way through whatever they are struggling with.

If you’re suffering from writers’ block, talking things through with a trusted friend or family member can be just what you need to revive your passion for a project, so – if it isn’t something you usually do – think about enlisting your best friend/partner/parent/child as a reader. Or, join a writing group or online community – that way you are still getting a different perspective but from people who are going through the same process that you are.

And for a quick fix, it is good to get away from the writing for a while if you are feeling a little stuck – take a walk, bake, listen to your favourite music. You’ll find it is often much easier to focus when you sit back down.