Advice For Beginning Authors - Part 1
February 23, 2007 10:46am CST
The desire to write is a force to be reckoned with. You can't create it and if you have it, you can't get rid of it. But turning your vivid thoughts and imagination into solid form can be both challenging and inspiring. Often as writers, we learn a great deal about ourselves through the works we create. The bottom line is that if you do not have the all-consuming passion to write or the desire to know yourself, don't waste your time. The saying that you must "do what you love and love what you do" has paramount importance when it comes to writing because it can at times, be a most frustrating endeavor. If you do have that passion, then start at the beginning by facing a few realities about the writing world in general. Don't set out believing that you will produce the most successful bestseller of all time. You have after all, chosen a particular format, style and subject to write about. It is not the history of everything or the biggest breakthrough since sliced bread. This is not said to belittle anthing you write; rather it is to be realistic. You will have a specific, targeted audience depending upon the genre of your book and you need to decide what it is from the start. Are you writing fiction or non-fiction? Is it a comedy, drama, sci-fi, mystery, romance, self-help, historical or children's book? Once you determine your audience, you must write for it with all of the creative force you can muster. However, before you begin it is important to establish an action plan. Write down your goals, bearing in mind what you can realistically accomplish. If you are not realistic about this, you will never accomplish your ultimate goal. This will include such things as how much you hope to write each week, hours needed for research on your chosen topic, preparing query letters, finding a suitable agent and/or publisher, chosing a date for completion of your manuscript and so on. Secondly, prepare a schedule so you can more easily see what you want to accomplish and practice good time management. This will include all of the items above and more. If you have an annual calendar, jot in which items you intend to do and when. This process is more important than it may at first seem. First of all, writing to a deadline is motivating for most people. Also, once you tell family and friends that your book should be completed say, by September you will want to ensure that it is. On that note, be wary of who you tell about your plans. You might not get the reaction or support you were hoping for and that can be discouraging. However, if you are determined, work past the naysayers and prove them wrong. Having a schedule helps you make the best use of your time. Remember to leave some contingency time to deal with unexpected events that could get in the way of your writing. Don't over-commit yourself. Also, ensure that your goal of writing a book does not conflict with other goals you already have, such as spending more time with family, putting in more hours at work and/or tending to health issues. When establishing your goals, you also need to consider "stress management." Writing requires a certain degree of privacy and a quiet atmosphere. How will you accomplish this? You might need to call upon your problem solving skills as well, to ensure that your space is conducive to productive writing. It might help to keep a "stress diary." By writing down all those short-term stresses you experience during the day, you will begin to get a bigger picture of what is causing it, which is the first step to finding a solution. By considering all the things I've just mentioned, you should be able to follow your action plan and monitor your progress as you go along. Writing and publishing any book can be a frustrating process at times. It is vital that you maintain a positive attitude. On a final note, each morning when you get up and every night before you retire, review your goals. Doing so will help reinforce them in your subconscious.
7 people like this
• United States
23 Feb 07
In being a writer for more than 50 years and published since 1961 I agree that it must be a passion, but as well, a discipline. No matter a High School Student involved in a one page book report, or someone creating Volumes of research material, if it ever becomes "WORK" then one should find another avenue of expression. More than half my material has come from a lifetime of keeping journals, and I most enjoy NON fictional efforts, even in what I read. LIFE is so much easier than MAKING UP an Alter Life, for me at least. I have to take point with your final statement however,,,NO offense. To "THINK" something never works for me. It's unnatural, and subject to confining restrictions. Certainly mental notes of a word, a phrase, can be the basis for the written word, derived from those thoughts, but I choose my MUSE always, and my FLOW. If I write a hundred pages then change direction, I believe it was for a purpose. Much like Michael Angelo, who I don't strictly compare myself to, I probably have thrown away more thoughts than have ever been seen in print. A GOAL as a suggestion, in being a part of the discipline of writing; such as 10 pages then break, then eat, then 10 more pages, etc. is valid, but and especially for the beginner, of dispassionate, creates a barrier in that self expaectations may be more difficult than a free flow,,,and LIFE distracts as well as inspires, and not everyone has that "sanctuary" allowing Freedom of time and space to explore the passion. One of may favorite, poetic Authors, a gentle lady who only lived into her 40's, and is so widely known now as to be on the tongue of every valid poet out there, wrote quality work, but one in particular struck me. It's less than 150 words and took her 10 years of revisions and rewrites before she felt it acceptable to submit for publication. Truly a candle in the wind; she may have been involved with OCD? OR AR disorder? Who can say? In any case her passion, dedication, drive, motivation, muse, etc. was obviously conflicted at points over that 10 years. In fact many of her other works took 5 years from pen to publisher. Again, with no offense, you've begun what can be an excellent tutorial for those who aspire to the next Pulitzer, and I have counselled others who say they "wanna" for more than 30 years, but I also alert them to "Relax" let the work write itself. If it isn't going to happen, one cannot "force" it, no matter their level of skills, or dedication to discipline. An example or analogy might be in a single publishing house, in a single week, there may be 1500 plus manuscripts piled high on every editors desk, and at the end of the day, hundreds of hopefully decent, rejection letters are sent back. That doesn't demand that one should deny the passion, only "GET IT" with regard to tolerance, acceptance, levels of compromise, and making the next attempt. Steven Wolf
• United States
23 Feb 07
Thank you ever so much for the invitation. Regarding your suggestion ie: "stress diary", just thinking about some of the things that happen around here increases my blood pressure and writing them down would take up most of my time. Stress causes free radicals, free radicals cause cancer . .
24 Feb 07
Thank you for a very informative post. It has taken me two years to complete my first novel. I didn't set any goals or targets, as it was just a hobby, something I had always wanted to do. However, I had been making notes for about eight years on characters and events that would fit my storyline. My objective now is to get some copies printed for Christmas presents for friends and family. When I retire from work I may even write a seguel.
• United States
24 Feb 07
Thanks for your thoughtful effort to help writers. We all can use these reminders. One thing I would suggest that helps me is to talk about my writing and writing goals with someone I admire who has published already. This can be one person or a group of people, but I think when you have someone who is seeking to undertake the same sort of goal, it helps you focus on your own writing. As for the inspiration vs. commitment to so many hours of writing daily debate, I think it's a combination of both. Sometimes we write our best stuff when we are truly inspired (the muse pushing us). Other times, just forcing yourself to write a few pages that you can throw away later can provide some good results, too, just when you least expect it. Other times, just write and toss. I don't think there's any one answer or maybe all the answers are correct, but at different times.
• United States
25 Feb 07
Thanks for the tips. I liked the part about proving naysayers wrong. I am currently writing a novel, and so far, I've received nothing but positive support. I think it's because I've limited the knowledge to just my family and close friends.
• United States
25 Feb 07
You make some very good suggestions and thank you for taking the time to write them. (I know we can't paste them in so it takes some time to write.) My own experiences in writing run a little differently. I don't set schedules. I don't make myself write if I don't feel like it. I can cause myself more stress by doing that than if I just leave and go do something else. My discipline lies in making sure that when the muse visits, I get to work immediately. I've finished one novel like that, plus a soon-to-be-published book of short stories and poems. I've also published two non-fiction books like that in the last year or so. I know that some writers set aside a certain work schedule for themselves, and stick to it. I just can't do that. I love to write but if I get distracted, I allow that to happen. The keyboard will call me back soon enough. Thanks again for your post, and welcome to MyLot.