If I could give any one piece of book-writing advice – whether to those thinking about composing a novel or nonfiction – it would be this…
Just do it. Sit down at your computer or grab up a pen – whichever one you’re more comfortable with – and write already.
Now, if you’re a plotter (i.e., a more organized writer), you might have to start out with an outline. What’s going to be in chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, and beyond? That’s up to you to figure out before you actually start your manuscript.
You might also want to write out character sketches and setting maps. And if you’re writing fantasy or sci-fi, you can even create lists of words, places, and customs you’re going to have to remember.
But it’s still a matter of sitting down and writing already.
That story isn’t going to write itself. That’s for sure. If you want to make it happen, you have to make it happen.
That might sound cliché, but I can’t stress how true it is.
If I could give any second piece of book-writing advice – whether to those thinking about composing a novel or nonfiction – it would be this…
Stop worrying about writing a perfect first draft.
That’s not what first drafts are for. As I’ve said many a time in past posts, the point of writing a first draft is to write a first draft. And first drafts are never perfect.
At least they’re not perfect as far as I’ve seen. I know some famous authors swear they write a first draft, then send it on to their publishers. In fact, they sneer at the idea of doing any further work from there.
But that’s their way of doing things. And, again, I’m not convinced it’s a good way of doing things at all.
Even if it is, they’re the exception, not the rule. You’re the rule. Accept that now.
Embrace it even.
When you do, you’ll find there’s a whole lot less pressure to find “the perfect word” every time. Knowing full well that you’re working on what essentially amounts to a mock-up, your fingers will – more often than not – fly across the page or the keyboard.
The result? Your writing time will be much more efficiently spent. And you'll have a much better chance of avoiding discouragement or burnout.
In other words, you’ll have a much better chance of actually finishing your book.
What a novel idea.
If I could give any third piece of writing advice to anyone who wants to write a book – whether a novel or nonfiction – it would be this…
Don’t worry too much about being original.
Obsessions with originality don’t go anywhere good. Most of the time, they don’t go anywhere at all. They stymie the intrepid spirit, trapping writers in the belief that nothing is worthwhile unless it’s completely and totally new.
Which is stupid.
Let me repeat that: It is stupid.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
There’s nothing new under the sun. Just old ideas told in new ways.
While, of course, you don’t want to go around plagiarizing other people’s works, you can – and should – draw inspiration from them. It’s only a matter of putting your personal touch on that inspiration.
In short, take it and run with it down a path of your choosing. It’s either that or recognize that you’re probably never going to write more than word one.
And don't you want to write a whole lot more than that?