An Interview with Ali from Enterprising Writers

I would like to introduce Ali who has recently set up Enterprising Writers, a website full of information for aspiring writers.

She introduced #WRITE2021, last year, which encourages you to write 2021 words a week. She has also just launched the #3ChapterChallange, which starts on Saturday 31st of July and ends on Sunday 22nd August and encourages you to write a chapter a week.

Here is a little bit of information about her.

  • What made you decide to start up Enterprising Writers?

I have been writing fiction for about 15 years but not doing as much as I should although I really enjoy it. Until now my main job has been working with individual clients, developing websites and helping them market their work, but I wanted to create a website that could help lots of people at once and covered stuff that other websites aren’t looking at.

I started working on this about 2 years ago and at first I couldn’t decide whether to create a website for artists or writers. I am in a writing group and people are always asking me for help because I am quite technical so I decided to focus on that first –there just seemed to be a lot more writers out there that needed my help, I started with a challenge to help get people writing and I really enjoyed doing that and the site had grown from there.

  • What author do you aspire to?

I can’t pick one particular author really, I don’t do as much reading as I’d like to as I don’t have enough time. I just started reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and I know that book inspired one of my friends to write.  A lot of authors say that to be a good writer you have to read more, so I’m working on that, although sometimes if you read something brilliant it can make you worry about measuring up – My philosophy is just write, don’t be put off!

  • What has been your biggest challenge?

Getting the website finished, I had to keep moving the launch date, but I need to not put too much pressure on myself. I keep thinking I need to do more, so I am talking to different authors to help with the publishing and writing aspect of the site and collaborating on different courses on there.
I am really good at the motivation and marketing side of things, but when it comes to writing and publishing I wouldn’t consider myself an expert so I am getting people in to help make it the best it can be. I am trying to steer away from telling people specifically what to do, it’s more about helping you to discover what works best for you and helping you to get on with your writing.

  • Tell us a bit about #3ChapterChallange

I’ve just launched the website, so I’m doing a three week chapter challenge and that starts this week. I will send a pdf workbook out each week, to get people writing. I’ve kind of strayed a bit with my own book so I’m going to use it to get back on track. I’ve managed to advertise on PickMyPostcode and have now got 500 people signed up so it would be good if some of those joined the website.

There are competitions out there to submit the first three chapters of your novel so at the end I will be suggesting them – plus other things you can do with what you have written.

  • What do you think are the biggest challenges for new writers?

Sometimes writers think that just because they are having difficulty in finding a publisher, that their work is rubbish, but that’s just not the case. One good way to get some validation for your work is to enter writing competitions, there are loads out there and they can give you something to work towards – and winning or being short listed can really give you a boost.

  • How did you come up with the idea for #WRITE2021?

I always wanted to write a novel and I started a couple of years ago but I wasn’t happy with the characters and had too many ideas for one book so I came up with the idea to help motivate myself and other writers and help them get on without beating themselves up.
Three people have finished writing a book since starting in January and on the website they check in with me weekly. It’s not all about completing it every week, sometimes we’ve all had a couple of weeks when we haven’t written anything but it’s all about getting back on with it. It’s really helped me focus with what I’m doing with Enterprising Writers.
I’ve really enjoyed doing it and am turning it into a rolling challenge, so there is a word count tracker and a writing log so you can log what you’re doing.

  • What is your long-term goal?

To have an established business and get into a routine with it so I can easily organise content. I also need to be able to give up the day job working with clients as I love the work I do on the website.

I would also like to see writers who have come through my website and eventually been published or won competitions. It’s a case of their success is my success.

I also want to establish Enterprising Artists in a few years time, but that would be a totally different thing as I would probably apply Arts Council funding and it would work differently.

  • What tips would you give for developing a character?

Ask different questions about your character, to make them well rounded. I sent out something with #WRITE2021 which has a series of random questions, which you wouldn’t necessarily put in your story but it helps a more detailed idea of your characters. It helps to make your characters less one dimensional and makes you think about how people see them.

  • What is your best tip for marketing your book?

A lot of authors get a social media account and think people are going to instantly come along and look at it but it is a slow growing thing and you need to put in as much effort as you want to get out. To grow your account, you need to be following other people, commenting on their stuff, tagging people in it, you need to put more time into it than you think.

You must talk about yourself and about your book – but find an interesting angle and talk about other stuff too. Interact with people, ask questions. I have seen lots of times when authors have posted their book on social media pages without explaining how you came to write it and promote themselves. Don’t drop it in a writers group page put it on a readers group page, those are the people who will want to read your book. Don’t just drop it there and not contribute though, you need to be doing more.

Self-publishing can be a slow growing thing too, again some people stick it on Amazon and just expect it to fly off the shelves but sometimes you need to put in some effort, wait for word of mouth and play the long game.

  • What is the biggest mistake a writer makes once they have written their book?

I have seen a lot of authors publish their book on Amazon and then go back to keep tweaking it. I know one author who published his book who then went back and cut 8,000 words out of it, even though I thought it was great the first time around!  There comes a time when you just have to leave it alone.

A lot of people think that if you self-publish then you can’t get a publishing deal but you can and they may edit your book again.

  • Are you happy in your life?

Yes, I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. I need to sell a few more memberships so I can give up my day job and I hate that as I’m not a salesy person. I love helping people access technology. I think if you want to market your book or your business in the online space then the most important thing is not being afraid to ask, with Enterprising Writers everyone that has seen it so far has loved it and they’ve all been really helpful – everyone I’ve asked to interview for my blog has said yes and been interested in what I’m doing, so yes – just ask.

If you would like to join #3ChapterChallenge then please follow the link

Also if you would like to join Enterprising Writers which is £12 a month or £120 per year, sign up here it is full of courses, a forum, a calendar of competitions and much more.


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