Monday, March 5, 2012

So You Want to be a Writer (But Are Afraid to Start)

Here is a simple plan from this indie author for getting your first novel done. You can take it or leave it, but if all you have done so far is dream or procrastinate it is worth considering. Let's set the stage.

You have dreamt for months (or years) about being a published author.  You have great ideas in your head for a story but don't know how to go about getting the thoughts into story form...and know even less about how to get published.  Don't worry.  You are not alone.

First, forget about how you are going to get published.  There is nothing to publish until you have a completed book.  Right?  That worry can come later.  Let's get the story written first. Before you get all worked up about how you are going to do that, ask yourself one simple question. 

Do you really want to write a book? There are no difficult, long answers to this question.  You have two possible answers.  Yes.  Or no.  If the answer is yes, don't dwell on all of the reasons you can't do it.  You may need writing classes or grammar classes and quite probably a good editor and proofreader.  That is for the future.  Right now, give me a simple "yes" or "no".

If the honest answer is "no" stop here.  You have figured out that writing is not for you and should wait for tomorrow's blog to read something that may interest you more.  If the answer is yes, let's begin.

I know you have heard about all of the authors that use storyboards.  A storyboard can be simple or very complicated.  It lays out all of the characters, their traits and history, and the different things that will happen in the story.  Now I am going to tell you something else about them.  Forget them.  If you want to write a story and can't begin, throw the storyboard idea out.  Not every author uses them.  Some write from their gut.  In fact, many do. That is quite possibly what you need to do to see your dream come true.
Commit to one hour a day, 5 days a week no matter what.  I don't care if you get up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, or write before dinner...that hour is set in stone. That is a rule that cannot be broken.  No excuses. 
Sit down at the beginning of that first hour and start to type (or write if you are one of those authors who does not want to use a keyboard). Just start.  Don't worry about how good it is.  Don't stop when you hear "this sucks" in your head, or "that is stupid, I need to change that".  Don't stop.  Just keep writing for an hour. At the end of the hour don't read it. Simply get up and walk away.

Do the same the next day, starting where you left off.  Don't go back and read the whole previous thing.  Maybe the last two sentences to get you back to where you where, but that is it.  If you read the previous work you will get stalled in an endless circle or rewriting and rethinking...and won't get past the first chapter.  You are green.  You are nervous.  You are unwilling to trust yourself yet.  Don't do it.  Just keep going without reading the previous writing.

That is it.  Just keep going without rewrites.  Yep.  All the way to the end; one hour a day for five days a week.  Why? Because there is nothing to rewrite until you have a story.  Finish the story and then you can worry about rewrites.  Trust me, there will be plenty of rewriting.  That is fine.  You will be much more likely to do the necessary rewriting once you have a complete manuscript staring back at you.  You have put in a lot or work and are less likely to procrastinate now.  Do you really want to shelve all of that time put in?

Yes, the story may suck. After it is done and you have rewritten it several times it may still blow.  That is what beta readers are for.  They should not be friends or family that will tell you what they think you want to hear.  They should be people who don't care if they trample on your dreams or hurt your ego. That prepares you for knowing if your book is ready to go to an editor, go to a publisher for consideration, or to the publishing site if you are going to be an indie author like most of us new authors.

I could give you warnings about proofing, editing, hiring out proofing or editing, how you need to know punctuation, grammar...on and on.  I won't.  Not now.  Right now you have no story to fret over.  The time for that will come later.  Right now? You know what Larry the Cable Guy always says, right? Git 'er done!

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