Writing a book can be a long and strenuous exercise in creativity, patience, and self-confidence. And even though all it takes is that you sit at your desk and bleed for a few hours every day, sometimes this advice proves to be as useful as a friend telling us that in order to overcome feeling nervous about someone we need to be ourselves.
I don’t want to tell you that all you’ve got to do is punch the damn keys. I want to show you that there is a better way to go about writing a book.
That sounds like a trick, I get it. But I know this works because I have done it.
You can do it too
I sat down to write my first book in April 2012. I wrote because I had told my idea to a woman I was hopelessly in love with, she liked it very much, and I had roughly two weeks to write everything down, for we would never get to see each other again.
And, yes, desperation works almost as well as inspiration. In a sense, it is hard to even tell them apart. Was I inspired by her to write? Was I driven to finish writing the damn thing in two weeks? Desperate for her to read my words, a sort-of not so subtle declaration of love? Maybe.
Five years later, I have published a four more books. It depends how you count. I don’t include the books that I share for free, or the ones that I wrote for other projects. I’m counting just the fiction, the stories and novels.
So, how does one go about writing a book?
Here are the seven strategies I’ve developed that have allowed me to write five books in five years along with countless blog posts and articles:
1. Learn, learn, learn.
Read. A lot.
I read everything, from fiction, to non-fiction, to philosophy, psychology, history, questions and answers on Quora. I read stuff I shouldn’t be reading, stuff that I hate reading, and even stuff that I’m not smart enough to be reading.
I collect quotes. Thousands and thousands of them.
If you are constantly ingesting new material, you will naturally follow threads that keep you interested and most importantly — writing.
2. You need a road-map.
Writing is easy, but being able to do it in such a manner that your readers understand what you’re all about? That’s the tough part.
You need to know where you’re going, and why.
Writing has a lot more to do with a journey of self-discovery than getting rich, famous, laid, or having crazy fans break into your house late at night.
I wrote myself into my stories so many times. Most of my characters are artists, because I am obsessed about art. Most of them have these deep feelings of inadequacy, because so did I.
I write about the artistic process because it fascinates me how an intelligent monkey such as I can come up with some symbols that can make someone else laugh or cry or even fall in love a bit with what does not even exist and could never exist.
3. You are your own muse.
Some of my favorite opening words in a novel ever are: “Everything I write was once real life.”
Max Blecher wrote that, in “The Shining Burrow,” his last and unfinished novel.
Everything that happens in your life can be used as fuel for your writing. Writing is ultimately about communicating part of the human experience to the readers.
I once used to believe that I did not do stuff that was interesting enough. Put differently, I was boring. My friends were boring. Everything around me was boring.
It’s not true.
Use what happens to you, good or bad. Write about what you know and feel and experience, write what only you can write, not what you think other people want to read.
4. Have something to say.
You have to have something you really must say. Anything less than that and you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
There’s got to be a story or idea that you feel so deeply and strongly about that you want everyone on the this planet to read about it.
Write about that, not about what’s trending and popular. Forget about sparkling vampires and BDSM and write about the story that you imagined into existence ten or fifteen years ago and thought about it every single day since.
When you’re sharing what’s important to you, when you’re sharing truth that you feel people need to say, you will find that writing is not so difficult anymore.
The reality is that books are hard to write, and as you trudge along you’ll make a million excuses.
But if you set yourself a date, and you write it down, and you read it every single day, you’re going to hustle and work to write that book.
Fight that inner critic that wants you to give up.
And, no, no one has it easy, no one strolls their fingers across a keyboard and magic appears on their computer screen.
6. Keep human.
Too many writers take the approach of locking themselves in a room writing until they think that they have a finished book. Maybe you finish writing the book, maybe you go insane. It’s fifty-fifty.
Trust me, I tried it, and I had to take some time off from writing because I had to fantasize about cutting my own wrists.
Never neglect your own need to be social, to talk to others.
Besides, you never know who might inspire you. After all, everyone you meet knows something you don’t.
7. The work-life balance myth.
For me there is no separation of work and life.
Both fuel each other, both make each worth doing. It’s what allows me to produce so much without burning out, because each part sustains the other.
Too many writers separate their “work” life from their real life so they can justify simply spending time “writing” without any urgency.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of a great line while running. You never know when you might connect those dots.
No one will argue that writing is an easy profession. Getting someone to pay with cash to read your words isn’t easy.
But there are strategies you can use to simplify the process and transform what you can produce.
Which of these seven strategies do you feel would help you the most?
What is the ONE THING you’ve always wanted to write about, but never had the courage to?