I’ve been writing now for quite a while. In that time I’ve talked to a lot of people that want to write books but don’t think they can actually be a book writer. I’ve had quite a few ask me how to do what I do. How do you write books? How do you freelance? Where do you start? I’ve had many people tell me that they want to write a book, but they don’t know where to start or they don’t know how. So to those people that have dreams of becoming a book writer but can’t see how they could ever complete it, I offer a few pieces of advice.
This is perhaps the most important key to writing a book. Rather than try to become a book writer, recognize that you already are. So what if you’ve never written a book? You can write a book, you are capable of writing a book, you have a story that’s aching to get on paper. You have life experiences that you can pull from. You are a book writer, we just can’t see that yet. What I’m really saying with this is that it starts with belief. Rather than viewing yourself as somebody that can’t, change your belief to somebody that can. While you may not have a book yet, when you recognize that you can be whatever you choose – book writer or otherwise – you are stepping down the path that will get you there. So choose what you want to be, and let yourself see that you really can be that.
It Starts with a Word
The act of writing a book – or doing anything that requires an investment of time and effort – is an act of faith. You simply start, knowing that the outcome may not be what you want it to look like, but trusting that something good will happen. When writing a book, start with a word. Let that word turn into a sentence, and the sentence into a chapter. Eventually, you have a book. And you may just find that it’s a good one. Too many people have dreams that they’ve buried or put off until later. Let me tell you something, those dreams often do not come to fruition. But once you start, once you put pen to paper and write the first word, your dream is that much closer to being realized. Being a book writer requires a bit of an act of faith. That first word is the leap.
Persevere, Persevere, Persevere
This key is absolutely vital to the success of your book. Actually, it’s vital to anything you do. Always persevere. Remember that vision you created for yourself, that moment when you decided that you were a book writer? This is where that vision comes in. You are going to get to the middle of the book and get bogged down. You are. There are going to be places and chapters that suck so horribly bad you’ll never want to write again. Every book writer experiences this. But even though you may feel that way, get your pen or your keyboard out and keep on writing. You only fail when you quit. That’s it. There is no other way. But if you persevere and push through all of the crap that gets in your space, that clutters up your mind telling you that it’s not worth it, it’s too difficult, the writing is terrible, the story is stupid, the entire thing is cliche, nobody will like it, nobody will read it, the characters have no life, the story is too predictable – really, the excuses are endless – get past those excuses and keep writing. Just keep going. Eventually, you will have a completed manuscript. I promise. Remember, failure only comes when you quit. So don’t quit.
Seriously, write your book. Write the first chapter, then the second chapter, then the third. Or start on the fifteenth chapter and weave the story around that. Honestly, I don’t care how you do it. But write the book! You can’t be a book writer if you never write. And I promise, eventually the story will take life. I’ve seen lots of writers offer the tip to write every day. Every. Single. Day. Even if it’s just a paragraph. While this is a piece of advice I need to work in more effectively, it is a piece of advice that is ridiculously true. The more you write, the more your creative juices get flowing, the more the story takes on a life of its own. But even still, if you don’t write every day, write as often as you can. Write when you feel that fire start burning, telling you you’ve got to get something on paper. Write when you start seeing scenes and hearing dialogue that you know absolutely must be in that book. Write as often as you can. Even if it’s once a month, eventually that book will take shape. So write!
Don’t let the Fire Die
As a writer, this one has shown up in my space multiple times. I’ll be writing and writing and then I’ll get a nasty thought that’s telling me my work is awful and not worth my time. Then I start to give up and I get discouraged. I’ll sit there in this pity party for far longer than I should. One day, I’ll feel the fire again. There is a little flame that starts to fan up and I know I must get words on paper! I have to. It’s a compulsion that I can’t let go of.
At first, I drove myself forward because I had a goal in my mind and I refused to quit until I saw that goal come to fruition. I wanted a completed manuscript. After it was completed, I worked on editing and freelancing and let life get in the way of my writing. Which was fine. The fire would die down, and I’d wonder if maybe I just wanted to give it up. But then it would fan up again and I would feel that compulsion. After a while I realized that I am a writer. I have to write. That’s it. End of story. I must put words down on paper and let stories fly from my fingertips. There is no reason for this. I just need to do it. After a few years, writing became a sort of lifeline for me. Now it is a compulsion and I love it when I feel that fire ignite. But I don’t necessarily wait for the flame anymore. Or rather, the flame is always burning. I’m aware of it now. I recognize it. I can light it up or I can let it die. But it’s there. So for you, I saw keep the fire alive. Life might just try to get in the way. Don’t let it. If you love something, if you’re passionate about it, why not make it a part of your life and keep it there? Honestly, one or two paragraphs a day isn’t going to be a ridiculous investment of time, but it will be just enough to keep the creativity flowing and the fire burning bright.