Are you writing a book? Wishing you could write a book? Go for it.
I believe in you. Not because I want to convince you you’re some special snowflake so I can get money out of you. (Yeah, there’s a bit of that goes on in this industry. I’m sorry that some of us do that.)
I believe in you because you have passion and vision and you really want to write a book. The book that only you can write. That’s why you’re reading this.
Maybe you’re struggling with a manuscript that won’t behave.
Even if you still haven’t put a word down on paper (or computer) as yet, you yearn to do so. Maybe you’re waiting for permission. (I did that for years, myself.)
You don’t want to keep saying, “Everyone’s got a book in them,” then get to the end of your life and discover that yours is still in you, rather than out in the world.
So go for it.
The opinions of others
A writer friend told me recently she hadn’t written a word of her novel for many months, since an unsympathetic beta reader tore it and her heart into little pieces. “It is terrible the power we give to other people,” she said. Amen to that.
Has anyone else experienced that condescending little smile when you tell someone, “I’m writing a book” ???
It’s true that some people will sneer at our writing, either overtly or behind our backs.
Let’s do it anyway.
How can we possibly find the time to write a book? I’ve looked and looked, but I can’t find any more than 24 hours in a day.
Check out this excellent post by Molly Greene on how to increase our productivity as writers.
Debbie Young also wrote a great post for the Alliance of Independent Authors on how to use voice recognition for writing. I’ve recently bought Dragon software to see if it can help me write more, and will let you know how it goes.
You can also check out my article on how to get that book written this year which includes an audio interview with a management consultant. Her story about the woman who finished her book by writing on top of the washing machine is one I’ll never forget.
The weight of the world
I heard a motivational speaker named Julie Cross speak at a recent charity event. I smiled at her humour, and thought, “Yeah, one of those naturally peppy people.”
And then she revealed how her husband had a major stroke at 41, and a few months later her 4 year old son was diagnosed with autism… and now I was really listening.
Her struggles gave her achievements that much more credibility.
She had to learn to stop waiting for everything to be OK and “back to normal”… she had to pursue her dreams and do something with her life, even in the midst of the chaos.
I’ve got some challenges in my life. I need to stop waiting for them to pass so I can write my book. Somehow, I need to write NOW.
Be more dog??
“What is Belinda talking about now?” I hear you say. Well, I stumbled upon a viral video recently, and it gave me a good laugh… but also started me thinking about my attitude to my writing.
It’s by a British company called 02 (I don’t really know what they’re selling, but I want 10 of them) about a cat that decides to change his attitude.
It’s only 1:10 long. Go on, I know you don’t normally watch “cat videos”, but you deserve this one.
If you’re a cat person, don’t worry, you don’t have to suddenly start preferring dogs. 😉 (Some of my best friends are cat people.)
But which pet’s attitude would you rather adopt when it comes to writing your book?
Let’s “be more dog” about our writing and publishing. Let’s go for it.
Let’s be persistent
Dogs don’t give up.
My senior terrier Killarney (16), always a model of good behaviour in the past, has lost her marbles and her manners with age, and now sees the kitchen bin as a buffet.
I’ve told her to stop again and again (this involves physical removal, as she now has the hearing acuity of a brick). Still I hear rustling and thumping and think, “Oh no, she’s in the bin again.”
I’ve even put up one of those concertina fence thingies to keep her out of the kitchen. Guess what? She just bulldozered through it, getting caught up as it collapsed around her, but STILL pushing forward to those tasty treats.
The old chestnut that CS Lewis received 800 rejections before his first piece of writing was published is apparently not true. But there are certainly many now-famous authors who were once struggling like us – you can read some of the rejection letters here.
Be persistent. Try again.
Let’s seize opportunities
My junior dog Rufus is often busy hunting for possum droppings, or having a nap, or running up and down the fence with the dog next door. Nevertheless, I find that when I bring his ball outside and offer to throw it for him, he makes room in his schedule. 100% of the time. He gives this opportunity his full attention, above all other opportunities.
Yes, I know it’s not really a fair comparison, because dogs don’t have to clean the house, and they don’t worry nearly as much about the future as we do, so they can have no idea how exhausting it all is. 😉
But there’s a serious question behind the lighthearted canine allusions.
How can I make writing my book as exciting to me as a ball to a dog?
I used to feel that excited about it. What is it about my current thinking that’s keeping it from being that exciting? What can I do to get that feeling back?
I think for me it’s worrying about other people’s opinions – both real and imaginary – that has sucked the joy out of it. It’s in my power to change that — not their opinions of course, but whether I let the spectre of those opinions stand between me and my dreams.
The answer will be different for each of us, but there IS an answer for each of us.
Let’s be sociable and loyal
Just as dogs are pack animals, writers do better in community too.
Yes, a big percentage of us might be introverts. (Not every writer is. I’m not.) But we all need to connect.
I’m not talking about tweeting “buy this person’s book” 24/7, or giving false reviews. Or demanding that other people do so for us. Apart from being icky, those behaviours are also time-wasters that don’t actually work, and in the long term they damage a writer’s career.
Being sociable and loyal is about forming friendships and alliances with other writers, and supporting one another emotionally, creatively and sometimes practically.
Meet them at writers’ groups, social media, courses, conferences. I’ve met several on Twitter. I’ve met them on their blogs.
We have more ways to connect with other writers than ever before. Collectivise. Inspire. Help. Encourage.
Let’s be thrilled
Nine times out of ten, when I put Rufus in the car, what lies ahead is the vet’s thermometer or a training session where he’ll have to do as he’s told. Nevertheless, he thinks going in the car is the most glorious thing.
Writing my book is hard work.
It involves lengthy rounds of rewriting and re-editing that gets tiring.
It involves coping with beta reports from generous and insightful people who somehow fail to fully appreciate the searing brilliance of my work. 😉
Soon, it will involve the horror of getting my MS back from the editor. (Being an editor myself, I have seen the future, and I know it contains many red Track Changes and green comments.) (How is it that there are SO many people who fail to appreciate the searing brilliance of my work. Hahaha.)
And yet, writing a book is a glorious thing.
As if that wasn’t enough by itself, this is the most extraordinary time in human history to be a writer.
We have more opportunities than ever before to get our work before the eyes of readers.
Let’s do the hard work, and let’s go for it.
My big commitment
I help other people launch their books into the world all the time. And yet my own manuscripts develop barnacles on my hard drive.
I have made the extraordinary commitment to finally publish my first novel by Christmas. (Yikes.)
I finished the first draft in 2012, and it’s been in rewriting/reworking purgatory ever since. I couldn’t seem to finish. Something has always cluttered the path, tripped me up.
But now it’s happening, somehow. Cover design is being finalised. I have booked an editor for October 1. (Double yikes.)
I still have options I could explore on the traditional publishing side of the tracks but I’m going “off the reservation” and publishing myself. (If you want to find out why, use the form below to subscribe to my blog. I’ll be blogging more about this in coming months.)
It’s a bit scary to state my commitment publicly. What if I don’t make the deadline and my failure is there for all to see? How embarrassing!
But I’ve been embarrassed before and survived. So I guess I’ll just go for it. 😉
EDITED: I finished and published the book by the end of the year!!! Check it out here: Poison Bay – Wild Crimes #1
What’s your goal with your book? Do you want to say it aloud, even write it in the comments?? Go for it.
Write that book.
Featured image via Bigstock/Dusan Zidar