Who has started 2019 by saying, “This year I want to write a book?”
The desire to write a bestseller is a common desire. Plenty of people dream of pouring out their soul into a novel, or sharing their wisdom in a non-fiction masterpiece. The fantasy usually leads to one having an unexpected bestseller at your first attempt and then living in opulent luxury, occasionally tapping out another awesome publication.
The reality is a little different of course (unless you happen to be Richard Castle!). Even those who only idle at the idea understand that it is pretty hard graft to create a book of the standard likely to please the average reader – and even harder to get any of those readers to actually read it!
Having written 4 novels of my own and ghost written and edited several non-fiction books, I thought I should share with you some hints, tips and advice to get you started if this is your year for getting into print.
If you want to be a writer, you need to write
Write every day, write lots and write even when it is rubbish. Writing is a skill, like any other, and to develop a skill you need to practice. Spend more time practising the aspects of writing you enjoy the least. For me that is descriptive passages in fiction – since you cannot write a novel without joining it all together because without it the book will be ‘lumpy’ and hard to read.
There will be days when the words flow like honey and then there will be days when they flow like bricks (or set cement on a really bad day!). Even so, you have to keep at it. I’ve always got a number of things on the go so that, if the words aren’t flowing, I can turn to something else instead.
Write what you would love to read!
Whoever said ‘write what you know about’ was an idiot! If all anyone wrote about was what they knew, we’d have no creativity. I believe you should write the kind of book you enjoy reading.
Because then you will feel passionate about it and that passion will come through in your words. So if you love stories about the Wild West, then write a Western. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it or suggest you’d be more likely to get published if you wrote science fiction instead (although Gene Roddenberry combined the two very successfully and the movie industry is STILL making a fortune out of that simple idea).
You need to LOVE what you are writing, with every part of you, otherwise you won’t stick with it. Besides, during the editing process you have to read your work a lot of times, so you need to love it to do that.
Read a lot – and read lots
Of course read the kinds of books you love – you are writing one after all – but also read other kinds of books – both fiction and non-fiction. Read it with a critical eye: how is it written? How has the plot developed? How have the different concepts been organised? How do characters interact? What works well? What touches you?
The more you read, the more you will learn about the craft of being a writer.
Expect it to be tough
That may sound like an odd thing to suggest but, if you think the life of a writer will be plain sailing, the moment you hit an obstacle, you’ll give up. If you expect it to be tough, you won’t be surprised when something comes along that is discouraging – you’ll just shrug, say, I knew it was going to be tough and plough on regardless. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can offer – it was certainly the most important piece of advice anyone ever offered me. As a result I keep going – even when the words won’t come, even when I can’t think of a thing to say, even when I read a book that leaves me thinking ‘I’ll never be that good,’ and even when everything I do to promote my books doesn’t result in the smallest piece of interest. Because I knew it was going to be tough and it is what I want despite all the obstacles.
If you have dreams of writing a book and need some expert help, contact Creative Words to find out about our Author Packages