So you want to write a book? Then this post is for you!
FORGET YOUR WRITING SKILLS FOR A MOMENT
In the early stages of becoming an Author, it’s easy to suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’. Should I really be doing this? Am I good enough? Is my writing worth reading?
The answer is yes!
Above all else, you need to have a story that is burning inside of you that you yearn to get released into the world.
I know this sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but if I had a pound for every person I hear say, “I’m going to write a book one day,” I’d be a very wealthy woman. There’s no use in procrastinating; don’t be one of those hundreds; start making progress today! Otherwise, you’ll be old and ‘past it’ before you even put pen to paper. Get going, and learn as you go.
I firmly believe in the power of a determined mindset. This belief came from my wise father, who passed away in 2021. He excelled at business and sports alike; his greatest achievement was achieving a golf handicap of two, having only taken up golf in his thirties. His drive inspired me. He did, however, often say that he would write a book one day. Sadly, that never happened.
So, whatever your circumstances and whoever you are, if you want to write a book, you absolutely can! You just need to start and set aside as little as twenty minutes a day. Don’t make any more excuses.
Finish What You Start
A sure way to never write a book is to keep starting and never finishing. Find your motivation, read up on your genre and find some writing tips from the #writingcommunity.
It doesn’t matter if it seems all jumbled up and unstructured at first. The first draft is merely getting the book out of your head. You can work on the rest later.
YOU’RE HALFWAY THERE!
When you have finished, check your word count, and Google average word counts for your genre. Don’t freak out if you are under or over, it’s only a guideline and your book will change throughout the editing process.
You have reached the point where you should pat yourself on the back; you have achieved the unachievable and have a 70,000 (ish) word story in front of you.
To lessen your editorial bill, I would suggest you read plenty of blog posts/books on how to edit, and structure your story. Even with a memoir, you need a hook and a definite structure to keep your reader reading.
Your first edit is not just about reading and correcting what you’ve already written, it’s about starting to read from a ‘reader’s’ perspective and not just your own. This is where you start to turn your book into a commodity for the public and not just your own diary of events or short essay.
If you are new to writing, you may well need to do several further edits before it is ready for the editor or a beta read (somebody to read your book and let you know objectively if it works.)
Editing can be laborious and difficult, but having got this far, it would be crazy to give up.
Finally, with the help of your editor and proof-reader, you will have something worthy of putting out into the world, or to send to agents for traditional publishing houses. I could write another entire blog post on this topic!
HOW TO IMPROVE
Now, I’ve always loved learning new things. I believe we should continue learning until the day we die and with regards to writing, it is no different. One of the best things you can do is read. A lot!
Many established authors – both indie and trad – cringe when they read their early work. This is because their writing has changed, improved, and matured over time. This will surely happen with every writer on their journey. Well, so long as they take steps to keep learning and improving. So how to do this?
They say to read in your genre, which I do, but I also read in many other genres. All reading is good: you start to see the structure, patterns and themes within novels and pick up lots of ideas, new words and concepts. So do read lots of fiction if you are a fiction writer, and lots of autobiographies/memoirs if that is your bag. See what others are doing, re-read your favourite books and ask yourself what it is you like about them. Likewise, books you struggle with, ask yourself what you don’t like about them.
There are so many great blog posts out there that help with writing. From how to structure your book, and how to write for the reader, to how to show and not tell. There is so much to guide and help you, but do feel free to message me if you would like to be pointed in the right direction.
There are many great books on writing too, and I particularly recommend: On Writing by Stephen King, and The Writing Mindset by Lizzie Chantree. Here’s a blog post with some other recommendations:
The more you read, the more you arm yourself with an arsenal of great tools and tips on what to do, and what not to do!
I would suggest writing blog posts too. It’s a great way to look back at your previous work and see your improvement. You can write about anything you choose: your pets, your beliefs, reviews on books or films, or something you have knowledge about and can help others with.
Make this a priority. Until you have five or six books out in the world, you stand very little chance of earning much money.
More importantly, each time you write a book, you will improve. If, like me, you have no previous writing experience, do not be put off. Storytelling is far more important than having a heap of fancy words and a degree in English language. The most articulate of people who know lots of very long words can write the most boring of books!
The important thing is to write freely and naturally from your heart. This way, you will find your own unique ‘writer’s voice’. A great goal to achieve is the point where people don’t see the words on the page but are immersed in your story instead.
Writing to Market.
Many people want to start seeing the £s rolling in and write especially for the market. Most traditional publishers will only take on your work if it meets this requirement.
Personally, I don’t give a stuff about what is needed for current trends, I’ve always been the same with my clothing too! I write the story that grabs me, and whilst I may manipulate it a little to turn it into a thriller, I don’t take any other steps to try and fit in with current trends in the writing world.
It is important to understand the genre you are writing in though, so read up on this, and read lots of books by different authors in your genre.
Comparison is the thief of joy
It’s very easy in the early days to compare yourself to other great authors and believe your writing is not as good as theirs. But please remember, they started somewhere too, and it has taken years of writing and many books to reach the standard they are at today. Each and every book, blog post, article or other piece of writing is part of your journey. Don’t overanalyse, just write it, and believe in yourself and your editor.
We all have the right to a voice in today’s world. If there is something burning inside of you that needs to be told, you owe it to yourself to write it. If you have a great imagination with stories you would like others to hear… write them. I, for one, would like to read them.