Writing a book is tough. Whether you’re writing a factual book, a fiction book, a novel, a romantic flick, a thriller or a psychological tale that makes you question your own sanity, there are so many factors to consider.
For example, how do you get your book published? Where do you go and who do you speak to?
Woah, back up, I’ve always found that one of the hardest parts of writing a book doesn’t come when it’s finished, but even just putting pen to paper and trying to write those first words. Today, we’ll explore ten essential tips you’ll need to remember that can help you get started as a professional writer.
What is Your Book About?
This is the first question you need ask yourself. What is your book about? You can write a completely compelling tale but not have a purpose. For example, Lord of the Rings is, at its core, a hobbit going on a journey to defeat evil.
Obviously, a lot more goes into the story, in fact, they made three films out of it, but at its core that, this is what the book is about. So, what is yours about? Is it boy meets girl, and they fall in love? Does someone go on the run from the authorities? Before you start writing, define your story at its core.
Fleshing Out Your Story
Every story, whether it’s a book, a film or a spoken tale has a start, a middle and an end. This is the simplest way to flesh out your story into sections, so you have the foundations for how you’re going to write. Using the concept of your story that you define in the point above, where does it start and end and then you’ll only need to fill in the middle.
Set Goals for Productivity
One of the best ways to start motivated and to make sure that you write is by setting yourself daily goals. For example, one writer, John Grisham was a full-time lawyer and a new father. As you can imagine, that’s a lot of hours in the day and not a lot of time for writing. However, by setting themselves a target of writing 300 words a day, he had a novel within a year.
The best way to get your book started is by writing little and often. You don’t have to sit for hours and try and churn out chapter after chapter. Instead, write daily and write paragraph after paragraph. This way you’ll be a lot more in tune with your story, and you’ll be practising your writing technique.
You could be 10,000 words into your book, and you release that it’s not the book you wanted it to be. After all, Harry Potter wasn’t written in one sitting. As a writer, you need to be prepared to fail every now and then, and you must remember that there’s nothing wrong with that.
Accept what’s happened and move onto the next thing. There’s no point beating yourself up over it. In fact, save what you have done as you never know, years down the line you might return to it with the abilities to turn it what you want it to be.
Write for You
You don’t have to write for other people. Obviously if you’re trying to sell your book, you’re going to want to write something that people want to read but, by writing about what you want to write about, you’ll be able to write something that comes from your heart, and this will be far more compelling and captivating than something you’ve tried to churn out for somebody else.
Define Your Workspace
In short, as a writer, you have no workspace, and it’s completely up to you with what you enjoy. You might get to the end of your book, and you’ll find that a third of your book is on a computer, a third is on paper and a third is in your head. That’s fine. At some point, you’ll need to get it all together, but it doesn’t matter where you write, as long as you’re writing.
This is easily one of the most important aspects of being a writer. Everything you do, every person you see, every television you watch and every conversation you have, observe what’s going on and why things happen. Look for actions and consequences in everyday life and look for the connections in things that happen.
By being observant, you’ll be able to write a much more compelling book since you’ll be able to include all the little details of life that everybody notices but don’t necessarily notice in their conscious mind. It’s all these little details that make an excellent story or book, and you’ll need them within your writing if you want your project to work.
Read Anything and Everything
As a writer, it’s vital that you’re reading whenever you get the chance to. Read a variety of books, fiction or non-fiction and experiment with different authors. Hand in hand with the consideration of writing every day, try and read every day, whether you’re commuting home, having your lunch or you find a little five-minute break where you have nothing to do.
Make sure you don’t just read books but you re-read them. As a writer, you’ll be able to pick up certain aspects of writing and how actions affect consequences, how characters are formed over time, and there’s sure to be a lot of details you didn’t realise were important in the beginning but how they affected the rest of the story.
This is hugely beneficial to your skills as a writer and is a great way to improve your techniques. You may even be able to pick up different styles of writing that you adore and want to implement within your writing, helping you to find your own style and format.
Whether it’s your opening sentence, a paragraph or a chapter, get feedback from the people around you. Even if you’re trying to think of the right word to use, use the people around you to see what they think and how you should move forward.
As a writer, it’s easy to get stuck in thinking what works and, sometimes, all you need is a second pair of eyes to show you the direction or to give you the inspiration you need to continue. If you’ve got a few people, who know you’re trying to write a book, use them whenever you want to. Some of them may be nice for the sake of it, and some of them may be brutally honest. You need both to succeed as a writer.
Also, try and get feedback as early as possible. If you’ve created the first paragraph and that’s it, get feedback on it. With any story, the first line is the most important, and it’s vital that you get it right or people won’t read your book.
This is by far the most important tip to remember. If you don’t enjoy writing, you’re not going to be able to produce what you want to write. You don’t have to stick with one style of writing. For example, one day you could be working on your book, the next, a poem. It’s really up to you. There’s no rush with what you’re doing, so as long as you’re channelling your passion for writing in whatever way feels best for you.
Rachel Summers is a freelance writer whose passion is helping students get the most out of their learning journey. She started out as a writer and journalist in the newspaper industry, including Australian Reviewer, before breaking out to go freelance and follow her own passions. Her writing is designed to help you get the most out of college.
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