If you’ve ever thought about writing a book, which I know a lot of people have, I’ve got a little piece of advice for you. Write it. Right now. Drop whatever else you’re doing and write the thing.
I say this because I have just been through this process myself. I wanted to write a book and put it off for YEARS because I wanted to get the premise right. I wanted to have just the perfect gem of an idea before I began working on it.
Last fall, after my girls went back to school, I got into a routine. I would take the kids to school every morning, then sit down for a couple hours to write. After a few weeks of this, I started noticing the word count pile up. I got to the place where I normally give up and just kept at it. Then, one Friday afternoon in October, I wrote two words that I’ve never strung together, at least in a longer prose piece: THE END.
It was ridiculously easy. I don’t know why I waited so long to do it. If you want to write a book, write a book.
Here’s the secret. In order to write a book you’ve got to focus on building up your word count above anything else. In order to do this, you let go of the idea of editing almost entirely. Your standards may not exactly go out the door, but they go down significantly. When you let go of the editing side, you can actually finish. This process is good and necessary.
Writing in this process is probably the best way, if not the only way, for a first-time author to finish a book. Unfortunately, many writers stop there. They send out this big steaming pile of garbage to an agent and then wonder why they never hear back. Or worse, they slap it up on Amazon and nobody buys it. Oh well, they tried writing. On to the next thing. The problem? They failed to do the real work.
So I lowered my editing standard and got the words down on the page. I finished the book. Great. Now it’s time to get down to work. You’ve got to raise your standards back up to the level you use for everything else. And it’s really hard. Where it took me about 10 weeks to finish the first draft, it is months and months later, and I am still in the middle of my second edit. And I kind of hate it.
It is at this point that I am glad I’ve done this before in a different realm. I am familiar with getting into the middle of a recording project and having moments where I do not like the process at all, even doubting whether this thing is any good or not. I have usually found this to be a normal part of the process, and the best answer is to just slog ahead, knowing that the best results will come from refusing to die and just moving forward.
So there you have it – little update for you in true “show your work” fashion. And a bit of advice. Write your book. Write the thing. Write it now. That’s the easy part. The real work is in the rewriting.
I’ll give you another update down the road a piece…