“I want to write a book someday.”
It’s something I said to myself a few years back, and often what people say to me now when I tell them I’ve self-published a book and written three more.
It’s a heavy statement. We all want to say that we have a book to our name. You have an idea spinning around in your head. You’ve played around with it and discovered how to turn it into a book.
The problem is that statement is a little empty, much like making a resolution in the new year. We all say we want to change, but how often do we stick through all the habit changing and action to make it a reality. Sure, we all want to write a book someday, but without actually writing it, there is no book. It will remain in your head, forever unfinished.
Getting over that beginner’s nerve is tough, though. I was there. Still, there was writing advice out there that finally got me to start writing. And I haven’t been able to stop. If you need that extra push to write the damn book, here’s your writing advice.
Write what you want
My first novel idea was a little cliché. It had superpowers, a high school romance, and some internal identity struggles that were *gasp* kept secret to cause drama later.
At first, I was afraid to write that all out. It had all been done before, so why would I do the same thing? So, I messed around with the story and tried to make it less obvious… but it didn’t feel right.
So, instead of trying to force a story that wasn’t what I wanted, I reverted back to my idea. Before, I couldn’t bring myself to write a story that wasn’t real to me. Now, I was able to unleash the beast.
It actually went so well, I decided to write a sequel which then turned into a trilogy. Writing what I wanted, free of self-judgement, helped me create an entire series. It was so much fun, and the storylines developed so well as I grew.
Just start somewhere
Not only was I trying to force something by writing what I thought other people would want, I had a hard time starting. I wanted to create the perfect beginning, set up the entire story with my first written word, and get it right the first time.
As a beginner writer, I wanted everything to be perfect from the start. I didn’t want to write down words that weren’t perfect or start a story that might not end how I wanted it to.
The thing is, everyone starts as a beginner. Even the best writers had a time in their lives where they wrote for the first time. And 100% of the time, that first writing piece is nowhere near the talent level of their most recent piece. That’s the point. We get better over time.
But we start somewhere, and that somewhere is right now. It doesn’t have to be right the first time. That’s what edits are for, and that’s absolutely what writing practice is for. You can’t fix something if it doesn’t exist in the first place.
Start where you are
“Start where you are” is great advice from a talent standpoint and from an idea standpoint. In my first book, I didn’t actually have a beginning. My story started somewhere in the middle, at least it did in my head at the time. Instead of worrying about writing the perfect beginning to get there, I made an outline of how my characters needed to get to where they were now.
I started writing from the middle, a scene I had figured out a long time ago. Once I started writing, I was able to get in a rhythm. It gave me practice writing a scene and set me up with ideas for how to push them to that point. Funny thing is, by the end of my final draft, that scene no longer existed. I’m not mad, especially because without that scrapped scene, I wouldn’t have a book to begin with.
There’s endless advice out there
The great thing about writing is that there’s a lot of advice out there for us to gather. The worst thing about writing is that there’s a lot of advice out there for us to gather.
We are never going to have all the answers. We can dig through millions of archives, from beginner advice to advanced. All our time can be spent learning about the craft.
If we never take action, that advice means nothing.
At some point, you can’t keep reading advice and putting off the writing. You have to sit your butt in the chair and write the damn book. You’ll never reach the end of the internet, so stop procrastinating. If you really want to write a book, you need action.
It takes time
It’s called a rough draft for a reason. Your first draft will not be perfect, not even when you’ve written a million books.
Often, people sit down to write a book and think it will be done next week. In reality, when they see how much work it takes behind the scenes to make a book happen, they stop trying.
Nothing is going to be right the first time, and to have a finished book, you have to be willing to love the hard stuff — the editing, the marketing, the pitching, the fine-tuning. Understanding that it’s okay not to churn out a book every three months is quite relieving. You have time to make it what you want.
Writing a book takes time, and though not all of it is fun, I guarantee when you have a finished product in your hand, you will realize it was all worth it.
Turn your wants into action and write the damn book. Take the advice that will actually get you to start writing and screw the rest (until a later time if you so desire).
This beginner writer took these tools above and churned out four books with two more in the works. Sure, there’s some stuff in the middle that still needs to be done before I put the others out into the world, but I have them written. My ideas exist on paper now, and I’m going to share them with the world.