How many times has someone asked you, a friend, or maybe even an online forum what the secret is to writing a book? Most people who write for a living will respond with one shred of undeniable truth – get writing. I know it sounds simple, but people tend to procrastinate, organize and overall talk themselves out of big goals all the time. The ones that finally attain an impossible appearing goal, such as finishing their first book of poetry, that novel that has been rattling around their brain, or a blog for their first content piece, have something in common – they sat down to write. The secret is that the piece you see will never have been their first effort; they probably have numerous drafts in the recycling bin before that. The difference is they kept trying.
Good writing or even just finishing a writing goal such as a short story to a novel is evidence of putting forth the effort to accomplish what others will not. Yes, ten thousand words or three hundred thousand seems an impossible task, but five hundred may not. When I first considered organizing some of my writing into something consumable by a wider audience, I struggled for about fifteen years. I had journals, so many started manuscripts and about six thousand ideas. I would stop and start, give up and leave there for a year and finally go back. Then one day, I went to see a presentation by a pretty well-known author who was speaking at the local University, and that moment changed my life.
He said he never writes a single book in one go of days and weeks. Normally, multiple projects, doodlings, and musings are scattered about his journal or laptop before the final work takes shape. What he did do, was write every single day. Set a goal – five hundred words a day, no exception was his challenge that I walked away with and have done every day since. And when I say every day, I’m not kidding. In a decade of publishing now, probably less than a handful of days have passed without me writing. I carry a journal with me to jot down thoughts, I always have a laptop with me, and my family knows I will write during some part of my waking hours. In fact, I recently had a pretty bad day and considered going to bed without writing, and my daughter asked me exactly how bad I was feeling, and I should possibly go to the doctor.
The other recommendation I took from my fateful presentation all those years ago was to carve out a place in the home that was your “writing” or “working” space. That place that when you sit your butt in the seat there, it is writing time, and nothing should distract from that. He again emphasized nothing should interfere, not social media, cute cat pictures, or the like. Oh, and don’t worry about editing and how good it sounds from the onset – just write. This is crucial for me and something I do to this day. If I don’t feel inspired to work on one of my current pieces, I write a blog, write articles for clients or ghostwrite. Yes, variety for me has been a savior as now I have written nearly 300 blog posts for various industries and people; I have over 125 books total from novella to novel length for myself and others for whom I ghostwrite. This allows me to have options when I sit to do my “work” and get my words each day. I will tell you that five hundred word minimum is now 5,000 words a day in a decade of writing. Yes, that seems impossible, maybe from where you are now – but it can be done.
Now, remember that the first five hundred words are just a stepping stone to great things. Next, it will be a thousand, then five thousand, and soon your finished book. Don’t spend copious amounts of time editing so heavily as you write; discouragement will take hold. Let it flow. Whether it is handwritten in a journal or on a laptop, sit down and write something today—your thoughts, story ideas, or simply what makes you made. Like so many other skills exercising the ability to write soon breeds confidence and your ability to finish that writing through editing and then to publish. You can do it – make today that first day in your writing journey, and let’s see where it can take you.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash