Fancy Writing A Book?
Are you a people watcher who imagines scenarios for the passersby you see? Have you had a life-changing event which has altered your perspective on life? Do you have an interesting story to tell or a vivid imagination? Or do you have a bounty of experience you would like to share with others? If so, you should write a book!
There are many reasons why people put pen to paper or preferably in this day and age, open a new document called ‘Book’ on their laptop. Maybe you have an interesting viewpoint or something new to say which will benefit and inspire others or the idea for a specific novel has been burning away inside you for years and it’s finally time to do something about it.
It is widely acknowledged that writing is good for both physical and mental health. Psychologist, James Pennebaker, suggested that writing is beneficial because it enables a person to process his or her thoughts and then
I find writing very therapeutic. Reflecting on past conversations and events helps to clarify my thoughts and analysing my reactions helps me to work through my feelings and even though intense emotions are sometimes evoked it is a cathartic and healing experience.
So, you’ve decided to write your book. Where do you start? I am a novellist so I’m writing from that perspective although most of the pointers I’m giving you are applicable to non- fiction writers too.
Deciding where to write is important. Will you need somewhere quiet and free of distractions? Or like J.K.Rowling, does the buzz of the local coffee shop appeal to you? Maybe you prefer to be in a working background and your local library where others are studying or reading is your ideal location. This is also linked to deciding on when you will write. Will your writing have to fit around your work and family life? Is your home environment too noisy for you to concentrate fully? Will the background hum of a radio or television totally distract you or does silence bother you? Will you be able to designate a set time in your schedule for writing every day or will you have to snatch time in between feeding the baby or the busy demands of your job?
Writing often and regularly is more important than how much you write. My goal was to write 1000 words every day. Sometimes I managed it and sometimes I didn’t but I did write every afternoon. Even if I spent hours doing research and checking facts, it was still book related and contributing to the end goal. I had the luxury of not working so if I suddenly had the inspiration for the next chapter or a revision of something I had written that day, I had the flexibility to get up at 3 am when jotting down something in my bedside notebook didn’t suffice and I would write until I had my thoughts down and then go back to bed. Some of my best chapters were written in the early hours of the morning when my head was full of dialogue that I knew I’d never
Deciding on the genre of your book is critical as this can affect the expectations of your book and ultimately how you market it. Who will your audience be? This will dictate the language and style you use, the voice you choose and previous knowledge of the genre will ensure you are not writing something that is already out there. The standard length of a novel is between 60,000 and 100,000 words, whereas a non-fiction book is between 40,000 ad 60,000 words.
Writers generally fall into two categories: ‘
I first began writing a recollection of a holiday romance, followed by a selection of other amusing situations I had experienced in Turkey. It wasn’t until years later that I decided to turn them into a novel. I researched what makes a good novel and how to structure one, making copious notes on writing effective dialogue and the value of rigorous editing and revisions. There are some amazing free resources on the internet, specifically aimed at new writers. With my background as a teacher, having to document every pupil’s achievement and being used to detailed planning, I made an outline of the novel, followed by a detailed chapter outline. At this point, I had two options for the ending and would only decide a year later which one to use. Having this overview, meant that I didn’t have to write chronologically and could flit around writing chapters which appealed to me on a given day and leave those which I judged to be emotionally difficult until a later date. Giving yourself bite-sized chunks, i.e. chapters, to complete in a certain time feels like a real achievement and spurs you on to write more.
The most important thing in writing the first draft is to get everything down. Spelling and grammar don’t matter at this stage, although if you’re using a writing app, like Grammarly, everything is corrected for you as you go along. This is the main benefit of using a laptop as opposed to writing longhand with a pen and paper. The editing process is when you go through your work systematically, checking for omissions, repetitions, adding detail, improving dialogue and word choice and cutting out great chunks of your precious text, either because it’s irrelevant to the story or your beta readers hate it!
Beta readers? What are they?
These are avid readers who can also be friends and family who are given the first draft of your book to give feedback. On my first book, I just wanted general feedback to know if they’d enjoyed it or not, but on my second book, I asked for specific feedback on the characters, the ending, the plot and suggestions for improvement. Being
Staying motivated is the key to successful writing. Nobody cares about the half-finished book you’ve got in a drawer or your plans to write a book someday. If it’s on our bucket list or is a burning desire, go for it. Yes, you’ll suffer frustration, want to throw the whole thing in the bin, swear at your laptop and cry if your computer crashes and you think you’ve lost 6 months work (Always back your work up at the end of every session!), but when you see your book in print for the first time or notice someone reading it on the beach,
Go on, get writing!
If you’ve been inspired by this post, I would love to hear from you and I’m more than happy to offer tips and suggestions to help you complete your book.