So, you’ve been bitten by the writing bug and you want to write a book. Some of you will be excited about the journey ahead and the rest of you will feel anxiety knowing that the prospect of writing a book is no easy task. No matter which end of this spectrum you fall under, you are absolutely right to feel that way. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m excited every time I begin a new story/book, but after the first few pages I start to get anxious, my inner-critic starts babbling about how much the story sucks, or maybe my back starts hurting from slouching over the keyboard and I get pulled out of the story, unable to find my way back in. none of the things I’ve mentioned are news to other writers out in the world, honing their craft and publishing their work, but the difference between those writers and the people who merely aspire to write is that the writers found the discipline to tackle their projects and the power to overcome the obstacles as they were presented.
The key ingredient to writing a book is words. Words fill the pages and turn your ideas into tomes of epic storytelling. Some words are better than others, but all of them should fall into place in some semblance of a congruent story. Failure to do this is not necessarily a sign that you are not cut out to write a book, but it does mean you will have to work a little harder to put those words in a way where they flow, allowing the reader to become lost in your story, not the flood of articulation you are trying to present. Some of the writing process comes from a place in your mind where the words pour out onto the page and you are totally immersed in the story. Other parts of the process require you to essentially fake it until you make it, these passages are necessary to further the story, but will most likely require more attention during the editing process. That’s not a bad thing, because if you stop when the writing is hard, then you will never finish the book.
How do you train yourself to write more efficiently if you are struggling? The easy answer is to perform writing exercises. Some people call them writing prompts. The idea is to form a simple idea and expand upon that idea in a short story of a set length, typically around a few hundred words. These writing prompts can sometimes lead to bold story ideas and they can also lead to a pile of words you are offended came from your imagination. Both outcomes are desirable because you will begin to notice trends in your writing voice, you can tell when the words are forced and dull, you will definitely be able to see when the words sing and are exciting, even if you are writing about an old man walking his dog.
The best piece of advice I can give you when it comes to writing is to have someone else read your work. The easiest person to seek out is the person you know will give you praise no matter how bad it sucks. Don’t even look at that person. You want someone who will be brutally honest with you, but shares the same desire for you to succeed. There is no need to be bullied for wanting to be a writer, but no one should have to sugarcoat a critique either. Have that person identify the pros and cons of your story, ask them questions that will help you build a better one, to write in a way that peaks their interest. Eventually they will be clamoring for more stories as you find your voice and take them to places they have never been. It gets to be exciting for both of you!
The mechanics of writing are simple, you have to sit down and write. It really doesn’t matter what the first step is, be it the beginning, middle, or end of the story. The key is to start and to know what you are aiming for. Without a clear goal in mind you will only be wandering aimlessly in your fictional world. Take the time to think about it and it will only get easier over time. Don’t get caught up in the processes that take place after you’ve finished your story. The time will come when we tackle those, but for now, just write.