I talked about writing a novel for a long, long time before I actually got around to doing any real book writing. I must have spent three to four years saying “I want to write a book” or “I should write a book” before I actually wrote down one serious word. But first you need to make a plan.
In the meantime, I kept journals, wrote short stories, wrote essays – essentially, I wrote anything that I could finish within a day or a month. I avoided anything that would take real discipline or commitment. Like writing my novel. I had no dreams of being discovered. I wasn’t really interested in being a famous writer. I just knew that I wanted to write a book. I even knew what it was going to be about.
I also read a lot of books about how to write. I told myself over and over that the research was what mattered. The technique mattered. I wasn’t…quite…ready…but once I read just one more book about writing, I’d get after it.
Things came to a head. I was too young to be having a mid-life crisis, but for some personal reasons, I vowed to quit procrastinating. I was not going to waste time talking about things I wanted to do. I was just going to do them. There would be no better validation of the new me than actually starting and finishing my book. It would be my symbol of triumph, or it would prove that I hadn’t changed at all.
Long story short, I spent the next three years writing that book. I self-published it to zero fanfare and little acclaim beyond my own satisfaction. And that was just fine.
Here is how I did it, which will not blow your mind at all: every day I wrote something. I did not hold myself to a word count, but I wrote something every single day and I did not go back to edit until I had an entire draft. The more words I wrote, the more paragraphs I had. Paragraphs soon turned into pages, and so on until I had a gigantic stack of papers sitting on my desk. I had done it.
I spent two of the three years re-writing the book. That was lake side ct actually the most enjoyable part of the process for me, which was a huge surprise.
So if you want to write a book, I have some advice for you. Not as a famous author, just as a guy who finally figured out how to get it done: just get started and write something every day. Stop reading about writing and just write. Don’t worry about the quality. Just keep those fingers writing, or typing, with whatever tool you use.
Do not tell yourself that anything except writing is actually writing. There will be a time for research and revision. If the words are not appearing on the page, it’s not writing. Make that your mantra, even though it’s not catchy!
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