There will be links in this blog. The first one is my book you can pre-order. The rest will be links to various sites to help with your writing. This is a long post, so buckle up.
The advice in this blog post is not going to be for everyone. This is just what I do after many years of writing to find my voice and my pace. What I do or use may not work for you and that’s fine. There is more than one way to write a book and all are completely valid.
All of writing comes from an idea or several ideas. You may have one and think, “YES! This is a book I should write.” Now here is the part most forget or don’t think about.
WRITE THE IDEA DOWN!
It doesn’t have to be on paper or in a special notebook or in a journal with handmade paper bound together in vegan leather by high elves. A sticky note will do. You need to get in the habit of writing down the ideas you want to write about. You also do not have to plot out the entire story when you write it down. Just the idea that popped in your head.
Vampire and human flying through an underground city and crashing through a waterfall to escape from bloodthirsty vampires.
That’s it. That is the note that I wrote for Blood, Lust, and Secrets. It isn’t long, is it? But it was just enough for me to think and plot.
I have spiral notebooks with ideas. I don’t go fancy. When its time to shop for school supplies, I head towards the spiral notebooks. Some stores will sell them for a 25 cents a notebook. That is a friggin’ steal! I grab a lot and stash them.
How I organize them:
One or two notebooks are strictly for writing ideas down. I write down vivid dreams, random thoughts, grocery lists (you would be surprised how many times something I have bought sent me down a spiral of inspiration), and songs. The other spirals are when I want to pick one of those ideas and start plotting.
The first part is just getting your idea down. That’s easy. The next part is harder. Plotting
Plotting/Writing your story
This is where I lose a lot of people when they say they want to write. This is where writers lose themselves also. Writing can be done in two ways.
This is where you plot the entirety of the your idea. From the first moment down to the last scene. There are many many outlines out there to find and use. You can even use what you learned in your English classes about the hero’s journey. The introduction, inciting incident, world building, climax, and then the aftermath. I am paraphrasing but it is still valid.
This is where you just jump in and start writing. Either from the beginning or the scene you saw in your mind when thinking of this idea. This is my approach. This is absolute chaos but it works for me. For me, I write from the beginning of the story all the way to the end. I hand write it out. This is the only way that works for me and several authors. Typing is faster yes, but how many times do you type stuff out and then delete when you mistype or misspell a word. When you write, you are forced to slow down to know exactly what word to use. Your hand will cramp up and you will learn to know which ink pen smells better than others (Bic baby!) but its worth it.
When I first wanted to seriously write, I was voracious for information. I wanted to do it correctly. The best site to use for this type of research in terms of writing and publishing is to go to the SFWA website. Yes, you may not be writing science fiction but the information is good for all genres of writing. They have articles to guide you through certain processes so you don’t get lost in the minutiae and get taken advantage of, which sadly happens a lot.
I used some of the outlining diagrams they had to try and flesh out my story. I used the traditional ways to plot and plan my first novel. I wrote out the entire story in a spiral notebook and was so happy.
Then I moved from plotting/writing to typing it out.
Wouldn’t you know it, when I started to type it out, the story changed. The characters decided to change their minds and do something different. I took out whole characters from my story. I added in new elements I had not thought of when plotting. This is totally fine though. This is what is supposed to happen. Your original idea will change when you are writing and it’s okay.
Your characters will take on their personalities you wrote for them and start behaving accordingly. Again, that is supposed to happen. Let it happen. They may take you to the same destination but in a different more interesting and page-turning way.
Keep writing though. Do not stop. You might hit a wall or get writer’s block while writing. That’s fine. Totally fine and easy to work around. Trust me. I know all the secrets and have worked through some of the worst writers block ever. But that is another post entirely.
This is your idea. This may sound like a similar idea you have already read or watching on tv. Write it still. How many stories and movies are very Cinderella or Romeo and Juliet-like? So MANY! Do not be afraid of this. The world needs your point of view on the story. Maybe Cinderella is a medieval assassin paid to kill the prince but when she attends the ball to scope him out, she meets a man and falls for him not knowing he was the Prince. Tell your story (don’t steal that one, I just came up with it and now I want to write it. See? Stories can come from any inspiration!!)
People daydream about becoming a famous author but forget about the writing part. Believe me, we all daydream about doing tv interviews and discussing our process and the book that millions of people are in love with. But we still have to put in the work.
So, pick up the pen, fire up the laptop or desktop, open that word doc/google doc, and start writing.
One last bit of advice.
It will take awhile. There is no way to write an entire book in a short amount of time. Nanowrimo is a contest where you attempt to write a full novel (50,000 words) during the month of November. That’s nearly 2,000 words a day. It is very doable but you will go a little mad. For me it takes 3 to 4 months to write an entire novel. After that, the process to self-publish takes even longer because yeah, I wrote a novel, but now I have to edit it. That was just the first draft. It’s gonna be crap! So now the second draft is making it readable.
You cannot edit your book right after you write it. You will need to step away for a couple of weeks up to a month and then maybe come back and read it. Do not get discouraged. It supposed to be ugly and not readable. Find some beta readers (friends, english teacher who has time to read and edit, Freelance Editors, fiverr,) to read and edit. Sometimes someone else will spot an error you read over time and time again and did not notice.
You need to be ruthless when you edit your book if you do not have the resources to find editors. Read every word.
My tip for that is to print out your novel and read it in your hands. Reading on the screen and on paper is two different experiences. You can always catch errors faster on paper than on screen.
NOTICE I HAVE NOT TALKED ONCE ABOUT GENRES OR FINDING AN AGENT OR FIGURING OUT MARKETING STRATEGIES.
Please do not think about how to market or sell your book while you are writing it. It will not help you. No one wants to get a query from a writer who “has an idea and is writing.” Agents want finished manuscripts. You will not know how to market your book if you haven’t written the ending.
All of these things are saved for the very end when you have a polished manuscript and a book cover you didn’t throw together in photoshop. (I will speak on book covers in another post)
You want people to take your writing seriously, right? So take it seriously, yourself. Invest in your ability. Make sure your book covers are eye-catching. Make sure your story is showing and not telling. Make sure you believe in it.
MOST OF ALL.
Sit down and write.