In my previous post (http://www.publicious.com.au/blog/self-publishing-just-got-easy-) I touched briefly on what you need to do to start writing your book. The message was simple. Just do it!
I’ve decided to base this series of posts on my tutoring and workshop material as well as my own writing and publishing experiences, hence the name ‘How to write and publish your book.’
Writing the first draft of your manuscript is by far the most important phase of the writing process. This is when your creative juices are at their peak: the time when you give birth to your baby.
Depending on the type of book you are writing, you might go through a long hard labour or you might drop the little bugger before you reach the birthing suite. Either way, it is a unique and special time.
When I talk about how I write at least one book per year, people who don’t know me may well think, lucky him, he must have a lot of time on his hands. However, people who do know me tend to think, how the heck does he do it?
The fact is we all have 24 hours everyday. It’s how we use those hours that count.
Bearing in mind that I write mainly fiction – so I guess this is primarily relevant to fiction writers – here’s my suggestions for getting started:
Time: choose a time of the year to write. However this doesn’t mean procrastinating by waiting for the fall or for the spring. If the juices start flowing, go with them no matter what time of the year it is. Allocate to yourself around three to four consecutive months to write your first draft. I term this time as my ‘in the writing phase’.
Then if possible, choose a time of day and stick to it. If you work full time it can be a time before work or after, which ever suits you best. When I’m ‘in the writing phase’ I get up around 4.00am and start writing. This works for me because I find that my creative juices are at their highest levels early in the morning.
Work out what time of the day works best for you and stick to it. If it means getting up earlier in the morning then do it. And do it everyday (including Sundays) until the first draft is complete. Don’t look upon writing as a chore. See it as a form of relaxation. If you have to go to work after you’ve done you’re writing in the morning, trust me, you’re going to feel great for the rest of the day.
Even on those days when you don’t feel like writing or you just can’t think of anything to write about, sit down and place your hands on the keyboard. I find that these times can miraculously turn out to be my most productive.
Place: find a place to write where you’ll have peace and quiet. If you are writing at home, set up your PC or laptop away from any distractions. If you’re lucky enough to have a great view, plonk yourself in front of it.
Set a goal: decide how many words you want to write each day and make sure you achieve it everyday. Be realistic with how many words you can write in your allocated time. Even if you have whole days to write, still set an achievable goal. Remember this will be everyday so I wouldn’t set it any higher than two thousand words per day. However, for most writers, one thousand words a day is plenty especially when you take the following into consideration:
1000 words x 7 (days) = 7000 words per week.
7000 words x 12 (weeks) = 84,000 words.
This is just an example and not a suggestion of how long your book should be. If you can write more per day, great, if you can’t it doesn’t matter. You are free to work at your own speed. Some days it may take a little longer, on others you’ll be flying through it and you’ll wonder where the time went.
The Process: most of my fellow fiction writers will know what I mean when I say how much I love writing that first draft. It is a glorious creative time when the story seems to flow from me, getting translated into keystrokes just as quickly as my fingers can move.
Important: this is the stage where grammar and punctuation, research and all those things that might distract my mind from the story's transmission are the furthest things from my thoughts. I’ve learned over the years how important it is at this stage to not get in my story's way. Just let it flow. Editing for me begins in the second draft. However, I realise we are all different and this may not work for everyone.
This is the birth of the first draft - the raw story - the bare beginning.
Join me next time when I’ll be discussing the second draft and beyond and the importance and limitations of self-editing.
|Tags: Andy McDermott / Director|