The Authorship Club that I advise asked me to give them (in their words) a “mini-lesson” about the writing process. In preparation for my big (mini) lesson later today, I decided to write down some tips to share with my students. And you readers! Lucky you…
As far as I know, most human beings, at one time or another, have thought to themselves: “This would make a really great book!” For most people, the book ends there. Some people I know have a running list of good book ideas that sits and collects dust. A brave few actually decide to buckle down and write out the entirety of the story they thought up, and that is where things begin to get good.
The tricky part? Joining the club of (possibly self-delusional) people who think they can actually tell a story. I want to let you in on a little secret: anyone can write a book. The tricky part about writing isn’t coming up with an idea, or polishing your writing, or finding a title, or choosing character names. The trickiest part about writing is believing in yourself enough to begin.
Once you’ve started on your novel (good job!) you’re truly on your way. Now the trick is to keep pushing yourself. If you drop out of the habit of writing, you run the risk of losing the motivation and self-esteem that got you started in the first place. I recommend setting writing goals for yourself to hit by specific dates. While I was writing Regnum Terra, I set a goal for myself to write 1,000 words each week. Now, I wasn’t always perfect. Some weeks I struggled to find even ten words that sounded right. Other chapters seemed to have been pre-written in my head, pouring out of my mind and onto the page almost faster than I could type. Overall, though, I stuck to my goal.
You goal might look very different than mine. Maybe you want to write a chapter a week. Maybe you really want to whip out a full novel in a month, so you need to write 10,000 words every three days. The details are up to you, your plans, and your life. Without setting goals, though, your dreams will remain dreams rather than becoming a reality.
Everyone likes to plan out their book differently. J.K. Rowling used a spreadsheet-style planning design to help keep track of all the plots in her books (check it out!) I put all my miscellaneous story details in a huge word document, and having everything all in one place was a lifesaver. It helped me keep track of dates and timing, character names, plot arcs, and ideas for subplots.
There will come a point where you’ve written what seems like a billion drafts of your novel. For any artist, the hardest part of creation is knowing when to stop working on a masterpiece and let it be complete as it is. Will your book be perfect? Probably not. But it will be pretty darn close. And moving a comma here or changing a word there won’t change the feel or essence of the story enough to keep making edits for the rest of eternity.
You’ve Got This
These are probably all tips you’ve heard before, and really, everything can be summed up in one phrase: believe in yourself. If you want to write, write. Don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t. Some of the most popular authors of all time were scorned their whole lives because people just weren’t quite ready for what they were producing. Imagine the loss to the world of literature if those writers had given up on themselves and their dreams.
Believe in yourself.
You’ve got this.