It’s amazing how many people have a misconception about writing, believing there is a special formula. They sit down and put together what they believe is something other people will flock to the bookstore to purchase.
After writing the prose they find someone to act as an editor, though the so-called editor really only knows how to read and point out small issues with the work. So after a quick read, a few scratched notes, and some will place words, the editor moves off with some money and the writer smiles, creates a cover and posts the work. With luck, maybe a few of his friends purchase copies, read it and say some nice things about the writing.
So, what do we take away from this lesson? There is no real shortcut to the creation of a book.
For the next few columns, we will go through the process of writing, from the start to the finish. After we have dwelled through the start, our path will take us down the use of professionals, to polish and get your manuscript ready for the public. The last part of the series will centre on marketing and getting your work in front of the noses who will read it.
How long will this take? Well, it will depend on how much my mind conjures up during the writing.
Now buckle up and get ready for a ride through the wonderful world of self-publishing.
Part 1 – Writing
Every writer starts by deciding they want to write, and what it is they want to write about. My friend, Tom Taylor, starts with an outline of the novel, writing key parts before he tackles the main part of writing. Another friend of mine, Mel Cober, flies by the seat of her pants and just writes, letting the story unfold before her. Jennifer, in my writing group, has the plot outlined, what happens in the chapter, and all characters in place before she writes. Mike, a new writer, does what he calls “Mind Mapping” each section, and writes a few parts here and there before typing it out.
Each method is valid, and works for them. Myself, I have the plot line, characters, and end in mind, but I only write out the characters to start. From there I outline the first chapter or create a story for the intro which may, or may not, be used. Then I write the outline of the chapter and write it. Will this work for you? Maybe, or maybe not. It is my method and it works for me.
Remember, your story needs the following:
So now you start.
Plan your moves carefully, and get ready to write. When I say get ready to write, I mean put time aside for it. If you write in the morning, through the day, at night, you need to put aside the time to create your masterpiece. Remove obstacles from your path, and move forward.
I know my friend Tom will cringe at the next little part I am about to write, so let me give you his advice first:
Turn the TV off!
Was that hard or what? He used a story about a friend of his who kept complaining he was having a hard time writing a chapter. Tom realised what was happening (he is a very intelligent man). He asked his friend if the man liked the hokey game the prior night. The friend commented yes, and started to ask Tom how he liked it. Tom answered, “I did not watch it, I was writing.”
So from his words flow a fountain of wisdom, take away the distractions. Does this work for everyone, though? Not at all. In fact, I find it extremely difficult to write without something happening in the background.
Let me explain. When I wrote “A Spear in Flight”, which is going through test reading right now, I did it at work, watching TV and generally whenever I could. I finished 76,000 words in just under 30 days (NaNoWriMo for those who didn’t guess it). Right now, I wrote the first 500 words of this column while watching “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, I am on season 1 of the classic. Does it take away from my writing? Not really, it allows my brain to slow down as I type. One day, I will be able to type as fast as I think, then I will have a lot of novels on the shelf.
It is all about what fits for you. If you find your mind wandering, and the page still blank after an hour, then do something about it. Change what you have been doing and put yourself in a different type of atmosphere. Take a leap of faith, and if the TV is on when you are writing, then turn it off. If it is off, then turn it on, or something in that similar vain.
I guess what I am trying to tell you is to do something that works for you and don’t let another cookie cut you into their method of writing. What works for them may not, necessarily, work for you.