When you finally decide that you’re serious and you’re ready to write your first book, it’s terrifying. It’s even more terrifying when you tell someone about it, because then you’re held accountable. Trust me, I know – all the questions start running through your brain, right? “Can I do this? Will people read it? Where do I even start?” Relax. It’s okay to be scared, but the important thing to remember is to not let that fear overcome your dream. So, take a deep breath and get ready for a bumpy – but rewarding – ride.
Organize Your Thoughts
Okay, maybe you’re like me and your idea struck you while you were in the shower and now you’re all fired up and ready to start frantically typing away in Word. Well, my advice is to slow down and take a minute to organize your thoughts. I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop writing because I honestly didn’t know where to go from there, or maybe I didn’t take the time to develop a character enough to figure out what they might say in that certain situation. I highly suggest starting with a few important pre-writing staples:
1) Make character profiles for all of your main characters. No, you don’t necessarily need to make one for every single character, but any that have big enough roles where you need to understand them more than you do already. One of my favorite character profile templates is from Deviant Art. It’s really lengthy, and I usually skip things that aren’t important to me, but it covers so much and is a great template to start with.
2) Draft up an outline. Do you have to know exactly everything that’s going to happen in your book? Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. In my opinion – no, you don’t. Through my experience, my book literally transformed as I wrote it. Characters showed up that I didn’t foresee, situations changed, hell – even the ending changed. But, I do think it’s smart to start with a foundation. You can’t build a mansion on top of a sink hole, right? So, take a minute to write what you know you want to happen – then let the rest fill itself in.
3) Do your research. You might already know everything you need to know to write your book. If you do – that’s awesome! But it also probably means you’re being lazy. Most books are going to require you to write about things you don’t know much about, whether it be because of a character’s background and interests or because of a setting or plot concept. Trust me, most of your research will be done as you’re writing. You’ll be in the middle of a scene and have to pull up your trusty friend Google to help you out. However, I highly suggest taking the time to do your main research in the beginning so you know exactly what you’re writing about and you don’t make any fatal mistakes.
Format Before You Write
When you’re self publishing, formatting is a bitch – no doubt about it. But, you can save yourself a lot of headaches if you do as much as you can beforehand. Consider where you’re planning on publishing your book and do the research so you can at least write your first draft in one of the formats. I didn’t do this, and I had to change literally everything before I could publish… like 7,000 times. It was awful. I highly recommend checking out KDP’s formatting guide and starting with that. Then, it should be pretty easy to change it for your print version and Nook or iBooks, if you decide to do those.
Set A Goal – And Stick To It
When I first decided to write my book, I did it as a New Year’s Resolution and made my goal to finish it by the end of the following year. I did it way sooner than I expected, but I knew that I wanted to give myself plenty of cushion just in case. I mean, let’s face it, life is crazy. If you’re lucky enough to be able to stay home and make writing your full time job then I ENVY you. However, most of us probably still have to work the 9-5 grind to make the bills. And that’s okay! Just remember that once you decide to start writing, writing needs to become a priority in your life. You might want to watch hours of trashy TV like you used to, but that’s valuable writing time that shouldn’t be wasted. It takes a lot of discipline and was definitely something I struggled with. So, set a goal for yourself and stick to it. Divide it up and figure out how much you need to write each week to accomplish your goal. Odds are you’re going to have some weeks where you can write 20 pages and some weeks where you can’t write even one single sentence. So, make sure when you plan your goal date, you keep that in mind and give yourself room for lazy weeks. 🙂
Take A Deep Breath And Write
“Shit. Shit shit shit.” Those were the words that went on a rampage through my brain when I sat down with that damn blinking cursor in front of me and realized I was actually doing this. I was actually writing a book. Like I said before, I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s easy or that it’s not scary. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and it was fucking terrifying. But, if you want it – really want it – then y
ou can do it. The first thing you’re going to realize is that all those people you thought would be there to support you probably aren’t going to care much, until you hit the publish button, at least. People love to see you succeed, but only if you’re not succeeding more than they are. You’re going to have people tell you that you can’t do it, that you’re idea is stupid, that no one in their right mind would ever read your book – you name it, they will say it. But, DON’T listen to them. Don’t let their thoughts and opinions crush your dreams. If I can leave you with any advice from this entire post I would want it to be this: If the book in your head is important to you and you think others would enjoy reading it, then screw what everyone else thinks – write it.
Is this all you need to know before writing your book? Absolutely not. You’ve still got A LOT to do – find beta readers, get an editor, figure out the title of your book, make a cover – the list is endless (look forward to more posts from me on these topics). But, if you’re just getting started, this should help you take the first step. If you’re reading this because you’re ready to go, then I wish you nothing but the best of luck. And for those of you who read this and immediately got scared again, trust me – take that fear and turn it into motivation. You can DO this.