Recently I spoke with a friend of mine who was interested in writing a book. I was thrilled they wanted to ask me about it, since I have only one book published, with another one soon on the way. We grabbed a cup of coffee and shared a few stories and ideas. As his questions began to flow, it seemed like all of my hard work maybe had paid off and I actually might know what I’m doing. In light of this, this post will share a few of the most important tips I would give to anyone who is beginning the cataclysmic adventure of writing their first book.
Before we dive in, however, let me begin this brief journey by saying there are times I feel like a failure and I have no clue what I am doing. Those times, however, often can lead me into some of the best content I’ve ever written. Experience over the past year has taught me a lot, but maybe the most valuable thing it taught me is…
1. Schedule the time you are going to write each day, and keep writing during that time no matter what. If you have made the decision and start writing a book, don’t stop. If you’re having a bad day, ignore it and just push through. Even if it’s off topic, a piece for a blog, or you have no clue where it fits in your book, keep writing. It might come later, but one day it will find its place in your writing universe.
2. Youtube University – You can get the greatest education known to man through Youtube. There are thousands of lectures and courses available from some of the greatest writers, editors and publishers from all around the world. I recently listened to a Ted Talks from a man who is considered the greatest editing mind in our World, a man from Great Britain with a history of some pretty amazing work. It was a priceless forty-five minutes, and everything happened in the middle of my living room, in my favorite red chair. Your education is incredibly valuable and not only is this incredibly impactful, it’s also FREE!
3. Studying Storyboard and Flow is essential to the makings of a great writer. Working through the development of your story and characters needs a deliberate structure. Without it, your plot and characters can end up shallow, confusing and contradictory. In my current book, Colossal, I initially wrote the book as a Chronological event and as to what made sense. To my horror, I realized I lacked any kind of good flow, so I started back at the beginning, broke down the book into more than fifty short stories and ideas, and developed a thematic order as to how the story would best unravel. Our kitchen table was covered in these fifty plus note cards, arranged in a big hill and valley looking monstrosity. I worked for hours upon hours, and eventually it all worked. Again, you can learn all of this through Youtube University.
4. Find an editor or a friend who can edit. You are a writer. You have a gift. If your gift was editing, you would be an editor. Find someone you trust with some brains and guts to give you feedback, and actually take it. They should be a reader and be opinionated. When they give you feedback, thank them and research what they have said. If they are the right editor for you, they’ll have probably a lot of edits for you to make. Take nothing personal. It is still your story, but without an editor, no one will want to read your story. Think of it this way – we write from what’s in our heads and hearts, but even the people who know you the best, don’t always know what’s going on in there. With a skilled editor, they will help your story to be clear for everyone, not just you.
5. Finally, have a great story. To do this, you must have a defined vision and you need to be a reader. By reading what others writers in your genre are putting out there, you can learn to become credible, yet authentic. If you read only one writer, you’ll sound like your plagiarizing. Get diverse and have some fun with the topics you dig into. By engaging many different writers works, and by writing your own stories, you will find your voice, and eventually become passionate about great stories. There are great stories all around us, but without a storyteller, the world loses out. We can always use another storyteller.
I hope this has been helpful. Please feel free to message me or comment below if you have any questions or thoughts. Thanks and may God bless your writing adventures!