Anne Rainbow is an author, mentor, and publisher. She helps aspiring writers to finish their novels, self-edit their manuscripts, produce a polished final draft, publish their books, and achieve their dreams. Anne’s website, ScrivenerVirgin, advocates the use of writing, editing, formatting, and publishing tool, Scrivener. Her RedPen Editing courses and book explain how to self-edit, avoiding editing overwhelm.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in London. In Wimbledon – the home of tennis – to be precise. The eldest of three, I was expected to be a credit to the family, to behave, and be an example for my younger sister and brother. I read from an early age, before starting school, and enjoyed a grammar school education and three years at Leeds University, reading Mathematics.
Those formative years were dominated by learning, and I developed a strong work ethic.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
It took a long time for me to realise that few people approach life the same way as me. Once that became clear, I went through a period of trying to fit in, adapting myself to suit others. A square peg in a round hole. In later years, I let go of that notion and focused on just being me. Warts and all.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
The one-size-fits-all recommendations rarely fit anyone. When writers are told to ‘write every day’ most won’t, or can’t, or gain no benefit from doing so. Instead, writers (and writers when they are wearing their editor’s hat) need to be aware of what circumstances work for them. Early bird? Night owl? Long hand? Straight into the keyboard? We, each of us have our strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to play to our strengths and employ others, or to learn from them, where we have weaknesses.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
In the mid-1980s, my first marriage suffered a two-year split during which period my mother died. My children were young, and I had problems coping with the responsibility for them as well as the grief of losing my mother. What saved me? I wrote poetry. It poured out of me. And I employed a dogged determination to survive.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I’m an optimist. I know that, whatever challenges I face, there must be a strategy I can employ which will carry me through. I step back and make a plan. I execute my plan. I invest all my energies in making things work, burning the midnight oil where necessary.
What is your morning routine?
I wake at five. By 5.15, I am at my desk, in my dressing gown. With freshly brewed coffee and a glass of ice-cold carbonated water beside me, I light a joss stick and switch on a CD. It’s always “Disc One of Love” and the first track is Perfect Day.
Within 40 minutes, I’ve written my morning pages, three pages including my affirmations and a prayer I wrote in Week 4, my first time through “The Artist’s Way”.
I then check my emails and process any applications for my various online courses.
As soon as the admin is under control, I embark on the first of the day’s writing projects. It could be a novel, a play, or a blog post. I have a long list!
At 7.30, I stop to meditate. If the weather is kind, I sit on the balcony overlooking the estuary. If not, I’m indoors, warm and dry.
At 8, I take coffee up to my husband, and spend 30 minutes back in bed, on my iPad, checking the news and my Facebook feed.
At 8.30, I shower so that, by 9, I’m at my desk ready for the first RedPen Write-in of the day.
That’s Monday to Friday. Saturdays and Sundays, my husband gets a lie-in because the Write-In doesn’t start until 10.30 am. But I still wake early and have at least a couple of hours to myself ahead of his day.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Second time around, the success of this marriage has been due to our ability to give each other space to enjoy our artistic endeavours. For me, it is writing; for my husband, painting. So, we have space within our home for each to have peace and quiet when we need it. We have a routine that allows us both to thrive. For me, that’s the early start. For him, I have to be flexible with mealtimes!
As well as this mutual respect strategy, I rely on my daily mediation to ground myself, especially since various health issues have begun to dominate our lives.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
There are several of me. I am a team of characters and I assume different roles according to circumstances. Some days, for an hour or so, I think about what’s happening and how I am to make progress. This often happens while I (assuming the role of Mrs. Chef) am preparing dinner. Plans made, Mrs. Clipboard then keeps track of what we’d agreed to do and the looming deadlines. She’s a bit of a nag and can be a killjoy, especially at weekends. I then have a host of willing workers who steam away and achieve whatever needs to be done. Each has their own talent and I employ whichever one is shining the brightest at any given moment. This team does the work! Research. Writing. Editing. Mentoring. Inventing new courses. Admin. Phone calls.
Seriously though, I batch and blitz. I stay focused on the task at hand, and I plan far enough in advance to leave myself wiggle room should anything untoward happen.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho a long time ago and it impressed on me the need to be aware of what is within reach, and maybe within me, before embarking on some grand search eg for the meaning of life. More recently, and several times over, I have worked through the 12 weeks of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I don’t consider myself as an artist in need of unblocking, but Julia’s take on life, and how we approach it, reminds me that while I am a product of my past, it’s up to me how I spend today and shape all my tomorrows.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
Gleaned from The Artist’s Way, I have 27 affirmations that I write out each day as part of my daily morning pages routine. The first affirmation is: “treating myself like a precious object makes me strong”. The last is: “a clearer and stronger me is emerging”. My favourite and maybe the one which rings most true is: “as an artist, my self-respect comes from doing the work”.