There isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t hit a roadblock or pothole in creating a book. Sometimes it happens within a chapter … or a blog. Wanting to be a writer; transitioning to a better writer, and arriving to the status of a great writer doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.
The process begins with reading. Devouring the words of others can guide and mentor both a writer-to-be and already established one. The process continues with just doing “it”—start writing. As you read more; you write better; as you write more, you write faster.
Stephen King says,
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others: read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.
Reading opens your imagination center. So can seeing something happening in front of you … and the “what ifs” can ignite thoughts, leading to words that can fill a page. And, being a participant in a conversation, or even an eavesdropper to one, can stir up scenes and narrative that a writer has been struggling with.
Graham Greene felt that being the eavesdropper or “spy” could be the perfect inspiration,
The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You’re there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see—every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties.
It doesn’t mean that it’s easy—done with the mere movement of your pencil or pen; with the movement of your fingers over a keyboard; or with the narration of your voice using dictation. Work has to go behind it as your page and chapter unfolds.
Ernest Hemingway said,
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
And Annie Lamott adds,
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.
And if you are waiting for the “perfect” time, the “perfect” environment, the “perfect” whatever, you may never get started. Pearl Buck said,
Don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.
And keep this in mind: planning your book is not writing—it is planning. Doing research for your book is not writing—it is doing research. Interviewing subjects for your book is not writing—it is doing interviewing. When you sit down and write—you are writing. It’s the culmination of your planning and gathering.
When I created my “little book of quotes” for authors and writers, Snappy Sassy Salty-Wise Words for Authors and Writers was seeded by three decades of writing and many more of just reading. Within the six sections are 250 of my personal quotations that I’ve created and shared with authors throughout the years as I’ve worked with them. Covering inspiration, writing tips, dealing with failure and rejection, embracing success, marketing and working with your muse.
The difference between a “hot” write and a “so-so” one: using the five senses. When you write with see, touch, feel, taste and hear in your words and descriptions, your words-sentences-paragraphs-story become alive. When your readers see, touch, fee, taste and hear with you—a fan is born.
Savvy writers study the movies. Get a movie script and dissect it. Compare it to the book. Watch the movie. You will learn how to create a visual delight with fewer words. (Tip … you can get free movie scripts at: Imsdp.com and SimplyScripts.com)
Bypass big words and jargon when everyday English will suffice.
Imagine your reader is sitting across from you. The story you are sharing is so compelling that she can’t get up or leave, even to pee. Now, write it.
Political correctness is writing is boring. Don’t write what you think people want to hear. Write what you have to say: in your heart; in your gut.
Don’t write “the fish are in the pond.” Write how the sun glistens on their spotted backs; how the setting sun creates shadows darkening their brilliant tangerine and salmon colors; how their scales shimmer as they effortlessly glide under the lily pads; how they dash within the algae and nibble at the pellets, filling their mouths until the next offering is dropped into the water. When you do, you’ve shown/revealed a world to the reader; not just a word or nondescript phrase.
Sometimes a great sentence contains just one word.
Quotations can be snappy, sassy and yes, salty. I’ve shared a few of the ones above that are revealed in Snappy Sassy Salty—quotes that I’ve received emails from readers who shared that they have copied and printed out to post so they can always see—to remind and inspire.
There are two that I always share with every new client:
Don’t do well what you have no business doing.
If you never say “NO”, your “YESes” become worthless.
As a writer, you need to learn to say no the distractors. It’s easy to get waylaid by the best of friends and causes. To complete what you are working on, being myopic is what you may need to do.
Writing is like sex. Most likely, you were clueless when the hour arrived in that first encounter. An amateur. With practice and experience, you got better. You don’t have to be an expert to start writing. But you have to start.
Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and is the Founder of AuthorU.org, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 35 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (Foreword IndieFab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences. Book #35 was published in 2016: How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos. Get your copy now.
Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged, a three-day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2017, the dates are June 22-24th. Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” on the Toginet Network at bit.ly/PublishingShow.
Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU, and join the Facebook group Book Publishing with The Book Shepherd. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at Judith@Briles.com.
Author U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Monthly education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps, and the annual Author U Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre-, during and post-publishing of their books. Join AuthorU.org today.
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