Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Have Not Yet Begun to Write

By Len Lawson

I was asked recently a familiar question to authors...

So how do I go about writing a book?

Below I leave tips for aspiring writers to use for getting that first book from the brainstorming to the finalizing stage.

1) Start writing. Stop talking to everyone about wanting to write something and actually do it! It doesn't matter what you write or how it is arranged or organized. When I began my first book (a fiction novel), I thought I was writing what I considered to be the first chapters. After visiting with a professional editor, it turned out to be the fourth or fifth chapters. I would add to this tip the phrase

2) Don't think--just write. Don't worry about being Ernest Hemingway, John Grisham, or whoever your favorite author is. They have years of experience, and writing a first novel makes you a novice. Writers usually have to push these nagging questions to the back of their minds until the work is finished.
A. Is this good enough?
B. Will people like it?
C. Am I on the right track?

3) Don't read your favorite author's work while writing. While a common tip for writers is to "read everything you can", this can be a detriment to your individual style that distinguishes your work from millions on shelves everywhere. You are not trying to be the next Ernest Hemingway; you want to become the first [insert your name here]. Furthermore, your readers will appreciate your uniqueness.

4) Keep writing. Remember this statistic: 95% of people who begin the same writing journey as you this year will quit. Therefore, how do you maintain your stamina for an entire book? Well, it's a bit like staying in shape.

A. Write every day. Don't tell how many things you have to do in a day or how many distractions there are. Every writer faces those same temptations. Out of 24 hours in a day, you can carve out at least 45 minutes to one hour to focus on your craft.

B. Develop a plan for writing and stick to it. Whatever your plan turns out to be, don't deviate from it. If you happen to get off track, then get back on quickly.

C. Stay focused during your writing time. It is so easy to let the distractions/temptations (TV, social media, Internet, cell phone, etc.) creep into your writing time. Eliminate these during your writing time. This takes time to master, but remember your goals and just say no to the temptations.

D. Create the right environment when you write. What works for me is to play an instrumental track of my favorite music while I write so that my brain is locked into what is flowing on the pages. Alternatively, I prefer silence. Find the right ambiance for you to create your masterpiece. Also, don't be afraid to alter this space if necessary.

Finally, the one thing that has improved my craft more than anything is learning from my peers and improving from the critiques I have received in my SCWW writing groups. I hope these tips will help anyone ready for their writing journey to pursue it with confidence.


Leigh Stevenson said...

Good advice, Len. Not only for beginning writers but also for those that have been at it for a while. It's easy to develop bad habits.

WritePersona said...

I couldn't agree with you more. The challenge of previous generations to get access to information is changing into a challenge to filter out the onslaught of excess information today. That goes to controlling what comes to you, whether by electronic or personal means. It's a matter of discipline, and as you so aptly put it, that's not unlike physical fitness training.

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