You’ve been putting it off, but now you’re determined. It’s finally time to write your book. When I started out writing, I had a lot of romantic ideas about what it would be like. I had to let go of lots of expectations, and now I think I’ve got a handle on it.
If you’re just starting out, maybe one of these tips will help you.
Write your book: you can do it (yes you can!)
Someone once told me that if you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. You can write a book — all you need to do is get started, and keep going.
1. You’ll write when you’re ready: be patient with yourself
I started writing around 15 years ago, very much the dilettante. Writing a book would be fun, I thought. When it stopped being fun, and turned out to be hard, I quit.
Of course, I started writing again a month, or a year or two later. I was happier writing than not-writing.
Whenever I stopped writing, I was very down on myself. That was a mistake. I stopped writing because I wasn’t ready. When I was finally ready, I knew it. All my previous bad experiences had become lessons — there were things I needed to learn, both about myself, and about writing.
So if you’re in a write-quit-and-write-again cycle, chances are that sooner or later you’ll be READY. Keep trying, and one day you’ll settle down and will find that writing is just something you do.
2. Keep a book journal: it’s your friend, companion and guide
Here’s my post on book journaling, BOOK JOURNALING TIPS: MAKE WRITING EASIER AND MORE FUN:
I’ve been journaling each book, and not only do I finish the books, the writing goes more smoothly too.
3. Outline, if you want to finish your book
I hate outlining. I do it as little as possible, but I do do it. Here’s a secret — I usually outline after I write. I’ll write a scene, then I’ll outline what leads up to the scene, the scene itself, and what I imagine will follow the scene.
My outlines are a kind of listing/ journaling process. In a real sense, they’re dreaming on paper.
You may need to unlearn everything you thought you knew about outlining to make it work for you. Tell yourself that you’ll outline, and do it, because outlining prevents writer’s block. But outline your way.
4. Lower your expectations, and then lower them again
We’ve all got an inner editor/ censor. Your censor tells you that everything you’ve written is trash. A child of five could do better, and who are you to think that you’re a writer?
Tell yourself that yes, your writing is garbage, and you’re happy with that. All you need to do is get some words onto the computer screen. Any words. Keep your expectations low. The lower the better.
You’ll be amazed — this “I write trash, and I don’t like it, but that’s OK” process not only makes writing easier, but your writing will improve too. You’re more creative, because your low expectations have stifled your inner editor.
5. Schedule your writing, and guard your writing time
No one cares about your writing as much as you do. It’s your book, and only you can write it. Writing your book will take time. Give yourself the gift of time.
Open your calendar app, and block out time for your writing. If you’ve only got 15 minutes a day, that’s fine. No matter how short your writing time is, those minutes and words add up. Before too many months have passed, you’ll have developed a writing habit.
Sadly, our nearest and dearest can sabotage our best intentions. They mean well. They want to spend time with you. Be firm, and gentle, but do guard your writing time.