When Virago Press was founded forty-some years ago, its principal aim was revolutionary: to publish books by women. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this wasn’t actually all that game-changing, but Carmen Callil’s publishing house was the first to take on this apparently impenetrable mission. And the meaning of Virago? A heroic war-like woman. Almost half a decade later, another mythical female figure has stepped into the spotlight: Salomé. Another powerful female figure championing women and their writing. Salomé is an online literary magazine for emerging female writers.

Perhaps you’ve previously scribbled a few poetic musings down on the back of an envelope. Or thought that one day – one day – you’d finally write that novel. Maybe you’ve even submitted work to a literary journal, or written a birthday limerick, or penned a eulogy so perfectly, perfectly composed that it really ought to be published. But maybe you’ve never ventured into writing – although the thought has crossed your mind, albeit fleetingly. So why should you write? Here, Salomé‘s founder shares her essential tips on what it means to write – and why you definitely should!

I want to start writing, where should I start?

I think the best place is to write whatever comes into your head. There’s a journalist I love, Ann Friedman, who really recommends this for getting over writers block. Yes, some of it might be complete rubbish, but most of the time you’re writing in your style about anything that pops into your head – it might give you some inspiration.

How often should I write?

I – along with many others – am an alumnus of Write Like A Grrrl: creative writing workshops for women which are hosted across the UK. Write Like A Grrrl founder and tutor Kerry Ryan teaches something called a Brief Daily Session (BDS). The advice here is to write for about 20 minutes a day (and not more than about an hour), but to make sure that you do it every day. That way you get into good habits and become used to writing all the time. BDS takes off the pressure of giving yourself a deadline and invariably leaving it all to the last day and having to make yourself not procrastinate. I know people who have written whole novels through BDS – it might have taken them six months, rather than three, but it is a much more productive way of doing it.

What about getting others’ opinions?

Submit your writing to Salomé! We give everyone who submits – regardless of whether we publish them or not – feedback. And that means about a page of the stuff. So just submit to us – it’s free, you could get paid if published and you’ll get feedback. There’s nothing to lose, only to gain!

How is writing fiction different from writing a blog?

I’m not sure it is. It’s still a creative process. The writing process is the same, though you might edit it more if you’re trying to get a novel published. What is different, though, is the immediacy of release and consumption. The thing I love about a blog is you can splurge your thoughts onto the computer, send it out into the world and have people read it there and then. For me, it’s a much more rough and ready process. I have a piece of flash fiction (it’s only 800 words) that I wrote in February this year and I’m still tweaking it.

How should I find inspiration for writing?

Inspiration? I struggle. I always try and think of new topics to write about but I always come back to the same one: mental health. It’s because I have my own very profound experiences with it. I was thinking about this today on the way back from the gym actually; why I can’t find anything else I write about well enough, in my opinion at least. Is it because I don’t have the depth of experience needed to really connect with a writing subject? Or is it just that the depth of my experiences of mental health outstrips everything else to the point that my writing on mental health blows everything else out of the water. I’m not sure. You can’t create inspiration. You just have to wait. Doing new things, meeting new people, giving different writing topics a go, can all help though I think.

What’s different about ‘female’ writing?

I can’t say in general, but from what I’ve noticed from Salomé submissions after just one issue, is a pervading sense of melancholy. I’d be interested to do a “happy” themed issue one day and see if the writing is any happier. I’m half-expecting lots of the pieces to be about a loss of, or the pursuit of, happiness though!

Why share my writing?

You don’t have to. Really. But why not? I used to write for me. I still do, but the sense of satisfaction I get from knowing others are reading the words I poured my heart and soul into is greater than it might be otherwise.

Jacquelyn is the Founder & CEO of Salomé, the literary magazine for emerging female writers. We give anyone who identifies as female the platform, confidence and experience to get their work published in an industry that favours and publishes male writing more. You can follow Salomé on Instagram @salome_lit and find them on Twitter with the same handle.