How to Get Started and Write That Book!
If you have always wanted to write a book, sitting down and starting can be one of the biggest hurdles.
There are many roadblocks the novice writer may encounter. Here are some of them:
Fear of failure
Not knowing what to write
Knowing what to write, but not how to write it
Feeling overwhelmed with the task at hand
To help clear the road ahead, here are some suggestions and tools that worked for me.
Start with the end in mind
How would you feel if you reach the end of your life without having written the book that’s inside you?
How would you feel if you leave the planet with the ache of it still locked in your heart?
Connect to your dream daily and let it drive you.
If writing has always been a dream of yours, then don’t get to the end of your life filled with regrets.
One of the most common excuses not to write is ‘I don’t have time.’
We all have 24 hours in a day.
Do what you need to do to create time to write. Every day.
Start with ten minutes a day; don’t tell me you can’t find ten of those little units in which to pen a few words.
Get support from family, friends. Be selfish.
It’s a trade off. Something always has to go.
Try doing without TV, you’ll have way more fun writing your own dramas.
Crunch the numbers
Make a commitment to write a certain number of words every day.
Work out how long your novel will be and break it down into bite sized pieces.
As the saying goes, there’s only one way to eat an Elephant... one bite at a time. Knowing exactly how big those bite size pieces are, will make what can seem like an overwhelming task more manageable and achievable.
For example, I aimed for a standard novel length of 110,000 words.
I thought a reasonable goal would be:
500 words a day
5 days a week
110,000 words divided by 500 = 220 days
There are 52 weeks in a year. Minus as many weeks as you need for holidays and other commitments, say 2 weeks.
That leaves you with 50 weeks in which to write 500 words, five days a week.
That equals 2500 words a week.
110,000 divided by 2500 = 44 weeks.
Count off 44 weeks from the date you plan to start and there’s your finish date.
Set Achievable Goals
Use the SMART strategy.
Goals should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Trackable.
Set a time frame and a word count that will be achievable for you, even if it is as little as 100 words a day.
I gave myself 12 months to finish my first book, writing 500 words a day.
Make the commitment
Come hell or high water you must make the commitment to write those 500 words a day, even if you don’t feel like it or don’t know what to write. It doesn’t matter. Just do it.
YOU HAVE TO WRITE 500 WORDS OF SOMETHING. Even if you think its rubbish, it doesn’t matter.
If you write more, that’s fantastic, but you can’t do less the next day.
It’s always got to be 500 words. That commitment to the 500, or whatever number you choose, will drive you forward and your book will be done before you know it.
Initially I used an excel spreadsheet that I updated each day. It was motivating to see the numbers rise, getting ever closer to the 110,000.
As the weeks went by, the regular habit of writing seemed to program my subconscious. As soon as I sat at the keyboard - after following my usual procrastination routines - the words and ideas would flow.
Over time I found the 500 increasing to 1000, and then 2000, and now it is often 3000 plus.
This number crunching system helped me to finish my first book in half the time I allocated. I gave myself twelve months but it was all done and dusted in six.
As a novice writer, I think this is one of the best tools you can use.
I don’t use a spreadsheet anymore; I just jot down the daily number in the big spiral notebook I use for brainstorming and sketching out ideas.
Get skilled up
If you haven’t put pen to paper creatively for a long time, do a course. It’s a must.
I did some online Creative Writing courses through the Australian Writers Centre. They gave me the basics I needed to start writing in a way that appeals to the market. The courses provide the opportunity to interact with other students online and critique each other’s work.
Cathie Tasker, a professional editor, ran the course and her feedback on everyone’s writing was invaluable.
If you’re not used to it, putting your writing out there to be critiqued can feel daunting. Be brave. The feedback will challenge and inspire you.
Unlike the general opinions received from family and friends, the critique from a professional will take your writing to new heights of excellence.
So come on, take your first bite of that elephant today. You will be one step closer to achieving your dream.
How to Write Your Blockbuster, by Fiona McIntosh is an excellent starting point for the novice writer. It is practical, informative and entertaining. I followed Fiona's daily word count system to great effect.