Ten Things I’ve Learned (So Far) About Writing a Book

DSC_00401) Getting Started is The Hardest Part

Once I decided to write my book I had to figure out how to do it. A friend suggested reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a twelve-week program, “a course in discovering and recovering your creative self.” I needed that because I’d never done anything creative in my life. The book helped me figure out a good writing routine, gain confidence as a writer and find my creative self.

2) Surround Yourself With Positive People

There are naysayers and there are supporters. It’s easy to tell the difference. One group makes you feel like you are wasting your time and not doing anything important. The other group makes you feel energized; they boost your confidence and take a genuine interest in what you are writing. Write these people’s names down. They are your go to people when you want to toss your work into the garbage.

3) Find a Routine, But Be Flexible

The Artist’s Way can help you get into a writing routine. Starting small is a good idea, maybe ten or twenty minutes a day. Find a good time and place to write. For me, it’s first thing in the morning when I have lots of energy. I write at home, wherever I feel comfortable, usually a quiet room with natural light and warmth. But understand that routines change with circumstances. Maybe you have kids, or you work shifts; you go on vacation, or there’s a tragedy in the family. Life happens and routines get messed up. Be aware and be flexible, but don’t give up.

4) Writing is Work

Writing is exhilarating, fun and creative, but it is also a lot of work. It takes a lot of time to write a book. No one just sits down and writes a book from beginning to end and thinks they are finished. That’s just the first draft. Now you must go back and read it and delete the crap and begin the revision. Repeat. Writing is hard work but it’s thrilling to see your book take form.

5) Procrastination is Real

Oh, yeah. There is so much to do. So many T.V. shows to watch, emails to write and Facebook statuses to update. There’s cleaning and cooking and kids to look after. There are books to be read. Okay, so turn off the T.V. Limit the surfing and even, dare I say it, the reading. Now get organized, know what your day looks like and schedule in your writing. Write. Stop procrastinating.

6) Procrastination is a Myth

On the other hand, if all you’re doing is writing, and you’re sick of it or even feeling a little depressed, it’s time for a change. Go for a walk, do something else that makes you feel creative. Go out with friends. Spend some quality time with your family. Don’t feel guilty about not writing. Even writers have to eat, shop for groceries and pay the bills once in a while. It’s not always procrastination. Live a little.

7) Reading Helps A Lot

Tolkien, Rowling, Shakespeare. Who inspires you? Reading improves one’s vocabulary, helps us write better dialogue, and shows us the many ways stories can be told. Recently, I read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. That book inspired me in so many ways. Not just to write, but to write well.

8) It is Important to Write Well

The first draft is all about getting ideas onto paper. You don’t have to write well. Each draft after that, you must edit, revise, and rewrite until it is polished. You can’t send anything to an agent or publisher that isn’t your very best. Read it out loud. Take some writing classes. Join a writing group (in person or online) and have other writers critique your work. You need constructive criticism from people in the writing world.

9) Social Networking Can Suck the Life Out of You

Some people call social networking procrastinating, and for good reason. It can be addicting and time-consuming and take you away from your writing. It can seriously suck the life out of you.

How do I know? Well, so far, I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and I have my website and my blog. I started them all at once and I found it pretty overwhelming. I think a better idea is to pick one and start with that. Once you’re comfortable, add another, and so on. Set aside a reasonable amount of time each day to do your social networking. Don’t let it consume your writing time.

10) Finishing is as Important as Starting

I admire anyone who has written a book, from start to finish.

And here lies the most asked question: “When will you be finished the book?”

And there is nothing I can say but, “When the creative process is finished and I am satisfied.”

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