How to Write a Book 101

How does one write a book?  Here’s an easy step by step process:

1) Have an idea you’re passionate about
2) Don’t give up
3) Write…a lot…at 2 am…when you’re supposed to be sleeping
4) Don’t give up
5) Get feedback, ignore some of it
6) Don’t give up
7) Revise
8) Don’t give up
9) Revise again, yes you must kill your darlings
10) Really, don’t give up
11) Get more feedback and possibly revise again
12) Stop doubting yourself, don’t give up
AND
13) PUBLISH!

Sound simple?  Yes, yes it is.  And, no, it’s not even remotely that simple.

As someone who has never written a book, nor published one, I’m writing this from the perspective of one who has moved from the “Yikes, how the heck am I going to do this?” stage to the “Ok, take a deep breath, keep writing, and don’t give up” stage.  From what I can tell there are two remaining stages: “Wow…I actually wrote all that, now I have to go back and fix it? *groans*” and “OMG, I ACTUALLY WROTE AND PUBLISHED A BOOK!!!….what do I do now?”

There are many, very talented authors out there who’ve written about how to write a book.  I encourage you to find them and read their advice.  Tap their wisdom.  Find out what made them successful and see how you can work that into your own journey as a writer.  On that note, check out this blog post by Brian A. Klems, online editor of the Writer’s Digest, about how to write a manuscript.

I’ve mentioned before on My Writing page that I’m currently writing a book (the first of many I hope).  Being someone who’s still in the process of writing their first book, I believe I bring a unique perspective to the field of writing how-to’s.  It’s a boots on the ground, in the ditches, seeing-the-moment-as-it-happens kind of view.  My insights are based on experience, a lot of great advice from author friends, advice from authors who don’t know me but I stalk them on their blogs, and general internet knowledge.  Also, my Muse.  She inserts the humor.

So, as I take this amazing journey, I’m delighted to share my discoveries, successes, and failures with anyone who’d like to come into my open door.  I hope it’s useful, and possibly even entertaining.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, my latest exciting discovery/advice about book writing is: accountability.  As many will know, accountability is very useful for getting things done.  It helps to keep you focused, meet your goals, and actually progress when life tries to crowd in and keep you from your writing.  I’ve found accountability in the form of a writing group.  I and two other authors meet once a week (okay, sometimes every other week) with a new chapter to discuss from each of our books.  It’s a slow pace, but for someone who’s working full time, taking care of family, and planning a wedding in addition, it works.

Before my friend approached me with the idea of forming this group, I really couldn’t get started on my book.  I first conceived the story in 2008, and from then until 2012, had written about 120 pages.  The past year, when I started seriously researching and learning about professional writing, I realized I’d have to re-write the whole thing.  Deciding exactly how to do that, however, was paralyzing in its complexity and difficulty.  Having a writing group has held me accountable to deadlines and forced me to make decisions.  Knowing I was going to sit in front of two people who expected results got me writing a story that, while not perfect, is a start of something that will grow.

Accountability forces you to make your writing a priority, instead of just dreaming, or meaning to make it a priority while never actually getting around to it.  I highly recommend trying it sometime.  Ask someone, or multiple people, to read through your book as you write it.  Give them expectations as to what progress you will make.  Then make sure to meet those expectations as much as possible.  You will find, as time passes, that *gasps* you’re actually making progress!

Time is precious, and you will only every do what you MAKE time to do.  We often only make time for things we feel are necessary.  If you have a story you’ve been meaning, or dreaming, to write for a while, but have never gotten to, ask someone to hold you accountable and expect results.  Let them light a fire beneath your buttocks and turn your writing from “want” to “need” on your priority list.

Good luck.

Check out my beginner Becoming-A-Writer Tips here:

#1: Take notes

#2: Know Your Market

#3 A: Read Read Read!

#3 B: Write Write Write!

#4: Importance of Feedback

How to Write a Book 101

my How to Advance Your Writing Career series:

Part 1: Publish Short Stories

Part 2: Professional Development

Part 3: Social Networking

(Stay tuned to my weekly blog posts.  There will be more information coming up about my book, my progress, and my insights into the writing process.  Also, I MAY (may) post some scene excerpts if I get enough interest in seeing them.  Then we can get some discussions going!  Thank you all for your warm wishes and support!)

P.S. Because cats are awesome, here’s how to catch some: