5 Tips to Get Started Writing
(This post is the third of three in a special series for aspiring authors)
I've covered the issues of finding time to write and overcoming barriers to writing in previous posts. This post will focus on getting started! You've made time to write and you're no longer afraid– now what?
Although it might seem very easy to write a book, I assure you it is not. You must be extremely committed and possess a high level of self motivation because writing is such a solitary task it's really easy to get sidetracked. Once you are absolutely sure you're ready to dive in here are some things to consider:
1. What will the book be about?- This is the most basic question but it is something all writers must answer. What will my book be about? Is it a romantic fiction novel, a self help book, a personal memoir or a children's book? Compose an outline of how you see the story playing out to determine if there is even a story there.
2. Word count- Determining how many words you plan on writing will let you know whether or not you're writing a full length novel (75,000 words MINIMUM) or just a short story. Maybe you only have enough content for an e-book. Be realistic about your goal. If you've told the entire story in seven pages then you have written a very short story that is probably best delivered online maybe via your website. And also keep in mind depending on your monetary goals, you might have to give this story away for free since it is so short. I write free stories all the time, it's another way to build your audience but if you want to make a little money from writing you will have to extend your word count to get an actual book.
3. Set deadlines- If you are writing to give yourself an outlet similar to journaling that's okay. . . .HOWEVER if you are wanting to put out your work commercially or even just online for free, you've got to set a deadline. You've got to start with a finish in mind. I can't tell you how long it should take to write a book, I've written books in as little as 3 months and as long as 6 or 7. But I will tell you taking over a year or longer is a bit too long. Because if you put out your first book and it's an instant hit, readers are going to want more and you need to keep that interest and momentum going. Do you really want to make your readers wait two years in between books? My personal goal is to release a new book every year. That's not to say it takes me a year to write it, because you've got to consider marketing and promotion time before and after the book is released.
4. Don't focus on editing as you go- One of the things I still struggle with is having an "edit as you go" mentality when I write. Instead of just free writing and getting it all out the first time around, I find myself making sure I'm writing in complete sentences, checking for tense, punctuation, etc. It slows down my writing time and it's super frustrating. Your first draft will not be what goes to print. Get all of the story out of you, go back and change it up, make it better, then go back make it even better and then start your rounds of edits. It will probably take at least ten read throughs from you (after the book is done) and a few from your editor before the book is finally ready to be released.
5. Remove distractions- I personally cannot write when the TV is on or my kids are running around the house screaming like banshees. I can write with calming, low music in the background but that's about it. I need the quiet to focus. Make sure before you start writing that you are able to tune out the noise around you or that the noise level is at minimum. Or maybe it's not noise that distracts you. If you're in your room and there is a basket of laundry that needs to be folded and you keep looking at it because you feel guilty then you need to fold it or leave the room. Whatever will help you focus on getting that story/book written!
I hope these blog posts have helped and inspired at least one person on their writing journey. Once your book is done you can sign up for my Self Publishing webcast to find out how to get it into hands of readers! SIGN UP HERE
(This post is the second of three in a special series for aspiring authors)
Most aspiring authors that I meet either tell me they don't have enough time or they don't know where to start. My post last week addressed time and next week I'll address getting started. But this post addresses another common remark that I hear, "I'm scared."
Scared that no one will like it, no one will read it, or it won't make sense. I felt that exact same way before I made the decision to share my work. If I'm being honest, sometimes I still feel that way. But one thing I've learned is that once you put it out there, your audience will come (provided they know it exists, lol! But more on that next week!) For now let's focus on overcoming these self imposed barriers:
1. Fear- Fear is a very strong emotion because you're going up against the unknown. You're putting yourself out there without control over the outcome. But fear will also keep you paralyzed and you'll look around and five, ten or twenty years will pass and you will still be saying, "I always wanted to write a book." So my suggestion is to go for it. Get those ideas, words, phrases and thoughts out of your head and go for it! One thing that I did was to start writing on platforms like Wattpad under a pseudonym, that way no one knew it was me. I got such an amazing response from strangers who had connected with my writing, it gave me the courage to share it under my real name with people I actually knew and it's been an incredible experience.
2. Procrastination- Writing is an escape. Writing is cathartic. Writing is fun. But writing can also be hard work. Sometimes the task of writing can be daunting and because you don't know where to start or how to finish or what to say, you put it off and you don't write at all. You start making excuses or you stop making writing a priority. Meanwhile time is passing and that book isn't getting written. YOU HAVE TO MAKE WRITING A PRIORITY. YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVEN WHEN IT'S HARD. Dedication and self motivation are the only way you will have a shot at that New York Times Bestseller list. To avoid developing a pattern of procrastination, set a daily goal of writing for a minimum of fifteen minutes or set a goal of writing 700-1000 words a day and maybe it won't feel like such a chore.
3. Knowledge- This is one of the biggest issues writers face. When I say knowledge, I'm referring to basic grammar knowledge. Grammar is a learned skill. And it's not easy to remember all the rules regarding sentence structure, voice and tense to name a few. However if you are going to be a writer- you MUST have knowledge of basic grammar. Knowing when to use there, their or they're is a simple thing that can destroy your writing if you do not know how/when to use the proper homophone. Even if you use an editor (which you definitely should), I still recommend buying a reference book or at least turning to Google when you are unsure.
What are some barriers you face when trying to write?
Writer. Reader. Designer. Creative Spirit.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”