Perhaps you have researched online on how to get published or how to write a book. You may have even attended seminars with famous or semi-famous authors who have lots of answers. There may be a writing or publishing conference in your resume and you might have purchased a Dummies books on “how to do it,” or a piece of writing software to organize your thoughts. Some or all of these solutions work for a variety of people, while other would-be authors have still have not produced their book or published it. This particular blog is focused on how to actually write the book, the mechanics of getting it done.
I wrote my first book on computer in the mid-90s as a labor of love. Most of the things I write are based on holistic healing and alternative medicine. My topics tend to reflect my lifetime journey of learning and offering healing to others. I have always been been a full time practitioner so my writing has always taken place in odd hours of the night and weekends. Initially, I relied on inspiration to drive my early writing. Enthusiasm and idealism are great motivators, but they are not enough as I found out over time. Yes, I sometimes have a burning desire to write, but things do get in the way, right? Here are my solutions for the time or motivation challenged writer.
First, don't write, outline. This is perhaps easierr in non-fiction, which is what I write, but very applicable to fiction. Write down the overall “mission statement” of the book. Who is your audience? Write a paragraph summarizing what the book is about. This is for you as much as for a potential publsher or your audience. You can eventually enlarge this paragraph for the back cover descripton off the book.
Outline the chapters of the book by naming each chapter. This lets you think about the scope of the book and what is called pacing in fiction. Pacing and storytelling are important parts of non-fiction, too. It's OK if you don't have a name for each chapter, you can write the idea of what the chapter is about for your own work-in-progress purposes.
Write an outline or essential points of what you believe shoud be in each chapter. This is the theme or point of each chapter and how it advances the story or thesis or what you are trying to teach. This can be a list, such as bullet points or a more rigorous outline in the classic sense. Whatever form it takes, just write down what you would like to convey in that chapter.
At this point you will have a good idea of what the book is about. This might be surpirsing since there is an assumption mentally that you already know what the book is about. But most authors will tell you the writing of the book brings out different levels of knowing about the subject and the initial idea or concept can evolve greatly. In fact, you can take it for granted that the act of writing changes you, how you see the world, and the project itself. Fiction writers know that characters and plot can take on a life of their own. Also true for non-fiction.
A next step might be write your biography as if you already have a published book and need to describe who you are for a web site or the back cover author's bio. This is particularly useful to frame how you think about yourself and your expertise, training, etc. If fiction, then you are writing to tell people interesting facts about yourself.
The rest of the writing is filiing in the details of your outline. “Filling in” may just be expanding one or two of your outline sentences or bullet points to flesh out the thoughts. This will lead to bringing in more information that you have accumulated. It does not have to be perfect at this point; you are just adding details. If you feel inspired, then write some sentences to further develop your thoughts. Eventually the sentences will turn into paragraphs. Of course, if you are writing non-fiction, this doesn't account for research, reading, or other factors that come into play and can change the substance of what you are writing.
Continued in Part 2
Posted by Laurence