Editor’s Note: As I go through the process of moving, a couple of my expert (re: smarty pants) friends — experts in writing, marketing, publishing, and social media — are pitching in until I get back. Enjoy their wisdom and visit their sites, which are listed at the bottom of their posts.
It’s 2014, and I’m proud to say that I have authored nine published books! Each one is like a child. They each came about in a different way, with a unique personality and a story to tell. I wish I could say that I have a one-size-fits-all method for writing and publishing a book, but that isn’t how it works. Completing a manuscript is difficult and take a lot of focus, dedication, discipline and emotion. But through my experiences, there are some things that ring true in every situation.
Here is my writing advice to my younger self – it’s dedicated to those of you who are working on a novel or dream of having one. I hope these tips help you!
That’s the only way to describe the feeling. The right time comes after you’ve found your flow and the only way to find your flow is to get typing!
There is a misconception that you have to have a fancy writing spot, or peace and quiet or perfect background music. Truth is, if you are serious about writing, you can write in the middle of a mosh pit as much as you can in a library. Write on your lunch hour, wake up an hour early before work, stop watching TV shows so you can write. Use your smartphone or iPad, a voice recorder or an old school pad and paper. Every word you write a step closer to the end result.
For your first draft, it is all about getting it out – like a hunk of clay. But, to make your editing life easier, have a sketch of what you want that clay to be. My first novel, I had a very loose outline. I ended up with 23 rewrites of my manuscript. It painful! My second novel, I used a thorough outline and had 5 rewrites. Yes, your final story will likely vary from your original outline because the characters take on a new live, but at least you’ll always have a reference point to work with.
It will suck up valuable time. You’re going to change it all anyway (or your editor will). Just get that first draft done. Also – as you are writing your first draft, if you are on chapter 16 and think of something awesome to add in, but need foreshadowing, make a note in your outline, if you can, on the chapters where you need to add the references – don’t go back and make the changes to previous chapters while you are still writing your first draft. It will all become a tangled up ball of string!
This is a great way to catch any little stray word or inconsistencies.
Everyone has to start somewhere. Truth is, those “firsts” will likely get chopped off because you’ll see they are warm-ups for the real stuff that follows. So don’t dwell on them, just get writing so you can get those “firsts” out of your system and get on to the good stuff.
Yes, it is good to visualize your book cover on the counter at Barnes and Noble (I sure did!), but don’t spend time working to get a book agent, cover art, a marketing plan. Just write that manuscript and get it done. Only then will you have a clear and concise view of what your book is about.
You could be halfway through your manuscript and feel like it isn’t working. Don’t give up and start a whole new idea. This is totally normal, you have to push through and you’ll be surprised at what will come. However, if you can tell right away that your book is boring, go back to your outline and see how you can punch it up. How can you surprise or jolt your reader? Do what it takes to finish!
While writing, turn off the Internet. Not only on your desktop, but on your smartphone too. No dings or chimes of incoming messages. It will be a huge distraction and time waster. If you need to research something, make a note of it in your outline and keep writing. Then later, have a set block of time for research, etc.
Write because you have a story to tell. Relax and know that right now, you are the only one who can see what you’re writing. You can erase or change it at any time. And be YOU. Don’t try to copy anyone else’s writing style, develop your own. Know that writing a book is a big project, accept it into your life and make it the best experience ever!
Kathy Cano-Murillo, founder of CraftyChica.com, is the author of Waking up in the Land of Glitter and Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing. She has also authored seven DIY craft titles and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently working on her third novel.