Saturday, April 18, 2020

So You Finally Have Time for That Book

You've had an idea for a book for a looong time, but you had a lot on your plate and couldn't make the time to put it together. And now you are home with less to do. So you gather notebook, pens, maybe computer and...

Now what?

If you're like a lot of people, you can write for a few hours or days without hitting a stopping point. Then you hit a "what next?" wall and stop. You put it aside while you think about it. There's plenty of time, you can't go anywhere.

I hope you do get back to the book. If the idea has been percolating, it needs to be on paper, even if you don't decide to publish it.

Thoughts Before You Start

1.  Pull your thoughts together and make some notes. Maybe you've jotted ideas for a while. If not, try to write a short road map before you begin. It'll help you know where you're going and if you're close to finishing.

2. Are you writing for fun or publication? If the latter, think about who you want to read the book and how much they will know about your subject. It makes a difference in your vocabulary and level of detail in description.

3. Don't sweat the details. Also known as don't get bogged down in research. Maybe there's a scene where folks harvest corn. You don't need a lot of intricate facts. Leave a space that says, "Add two sentences on harvesting." If you start reading about the process, you could go on for hours.

4. If you're writing a mystery and want to describe a weapon or manner of murder, you may not need pages of description. A true crime novel or private investigator story would need more than a traditional or cozy mystery. Same goes for a book that involves a hobby. Unless it's germane to the story, the reader doesn't need to know how to throw a curve ball or how long it takes marigolds to germinate. (See #2.)

5. Just keep writing, don't stop to edit. If you take a break, you may need to reread your last chapter to get the feel for where you are, but don't critique yourself.

6. Try not to think about things such as how to find a publisher, market your book, or which talk show to be on. Nothing like that matters until you finish and polish the manuscript.

7. Some people close to you may be interested in your progress, but most people won't be. They may like you a lot, but they're living their lives and probably aren't writers. Besides, someone could try to talk you into going in a different direction. You want to follow your own path.

8. And the most important point. Don't stop if you hit a dead spot. It's okay to jump ahead and write a scene that's clear to you. Work on the transition or specifics later.

That's it. Writing is hard, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Check back in a couple of days for a blog post on how to keep the story moving.

And don't stop reading!
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