Writing a book. Sounds easy? If you have ever tried to write a book, or actually succeeded at writing a book, you know what kind of commitment it requires. Taking about it is one thing. Doing it is another. So, how do we unlock the mystery of writing a book?
Many people want to write a book. They either have a message or information they want to share, or they love to tell a good story. Perhaps they have experiences they feel people can learn from. Perhaps they want to make a statement about the human condition, or provide social commentary. The variety of reasons for writing a book is as immense as the variety of ideas people have for those books.
But, what does it take?
Here are the 5 elements I feel are necessary to unlock the mystery of writing a book, and more importantly finishing a book.
Element #5 Understand your gifts, knowledge, and talent.
This goes along with the old adage “write what you know.” If you have access to certain information, or are gifted with unique skills, or have a particular talent – write about it. Would a bee-keeper write a medical thriller? Possibly, if she had a passion for medicine, or had access to a medical professional. Or, if the plight of bees threatened the medical well-being of mankind in her book. But generally, no. If medicine is not an interest of the bee-keeper, she might be better served to write a book involving bees, beekeeping, or perhaps a book about a honey-salesman. That could have some interesting connotations!
Stick with what you know, or what you are passionate about. It will come through in your story or in your message.
Element #4 Create time and space – figuratively.
When I am working on a book, I find it is top of mind, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But there are times when I can’t sit down to write. As much as I would like to say that I am an author who writes every single day, it is just not a reality for me. I have other things I am equally passionate about. It’s always a struggle to get everything in. Instead of neglecting my other passions and responsibilities, I make time and space in my head for my book. When doing physical chores that don’t require a lot of concentration, I work out the next scene or chapter I want to write. I might fantasize about a new character, or a new setting for my book.
Keep a small notebook in your pocket or purse to capture your thoughts. I used to spend a lot of time in the car. Instead of listening to music, I listened to the story unfolding in my head. It’s a great way to make the commute shorter. Don’t take notes unless you are at a stop light!
Element #3 Create time and space – literally.
It is important to take your writing seriously. Do not put it on the back-burner, or think to yourself, “I’ll get to it later.” Schedule it into your day or week. If you can only fit in 20 minutes a day, great! Put it in your calendar. If you can write one page a day, then you will have 365 pages at the end of the year. Viola! A book.
Finding a space where you cannot be disturbed is instrumental. I try to create a cozy, comfortable atmosphere in my office. I have my essential oils diffuser, tea pot, comfy sofa or chair, and a clean desk (somewhat) ready for me when I sit down to write. When I spent a lot of time in the car, I carried my lap-top with me everywhere. I wrote in airports, coffee shops, restaurants, even the nail salon! Some people claim they can’t write anywhere but their office. I get it. But, being flexible gives you more writing time. And, the more you do it, the better you get at it!
Element #2 Read, read, read.
Reading books of all genres and types is the best way to learn to be a better writer. It’s important to take stock of other authors’ strengths and weaknesses, what works and what doesn’t. Take note of things like their writing style, their voice, their message, and themes that run throughout their book. Focus on your genre or area of interest. Write down the passages that strike you. Analyze what the author did to make their words so colorful, exciting, terrifying, or real. Do you get lost in the setting or world the author has built? Why? Do you love or hate a character? Why?
Element #1 – The single most important element to writing a book: Belief in Self
Writing a book can be a hefty undertaking. You’ll spend a lot of time in your own head. This can be a dangerous place! Naturally, your thoughts will want to take you where you aren’t good enough, you don’t know enough. You go to a place where people won’t want to read what you have written, or take you seriously. Am I right?
Belief in yourself is so important as a writer. You cannot please everyone. People will give you advice and commentary whether you want it or not. Whether you are published or not. Whether you are a best-seller or not. Unfortunately, being a writer or artist requires the development of a tough skin, a love of your craft, and a love of self. If you don’t love what you do and what you write, how will anyone else? Believe in your craft. Believe in your work. Believe in yourself.