I think every one out there who considers himself/herself a reader has a secret desire to write a book, or at least has entertained the idea at one point or another. Writing a book is an imposing project, sort of like standing at the bottom of Mount Everest and thinking, “I have to climb that?!” So below are five strategies/tips for starting (and continuing) to write.
1. Start today.
I started writing when I was thirty, and had my first novel published when I was forty-four. Do the math. Sorry to go all Grim Reaper on you, but that invisible mortality countdown timer over your head is decreasing, not increasing, by the second.
2. Give yourself permission to suck.
Look, here’s what going to happen– you’re going to be all excited to write, then after an hour or so will realize, Holy cow! This is terrible. Why doesn’t it sound like anything I read? and will want to give up. Like learning how to play a musical instrument or how to juggle flaming bowling balls , writing well takes patience and persistence (and flame-retardant gloves.) And that only comes if you give yourself permission to be bad at first, and don’t give up when frustration hits.
3. Get an early victory.
Young writers, or anyone in a new endeavor, who have success early tend to keep at it. So I suggest giving yourself an early victory to motivate yourself to continue writing. Here’s how to do that–Pick a favorite scene from the novel you have in your head regardless of chronology and write that. Or instead of starting at year one of your demented family’s history, write about your eccentric Aunt Helen and her collection of toilet paper rolls she’s decorated to resemble the Founding Fathers, or whoever else you think you could do a damn fine job at. Whatever gets you excited to write, that’s what you should starting writing
4. Eliminate distractions.
Writers are great at finding reasons not to write. Some days I’d rather start my taxes six months early or clean the rain gutters out with my tongue than write. And once I do start writing, that’s when I realize, hey, I should check my email/Twitter feed/fantasy football line-up/etc. So eliminating those distractions and daydreams is essential. If you can, find a place to write without a lot of foot traffic, noise pollution, and, if really possible, away from the damn Internet. For this last one, there are a handful of fantastic apps out there that will shutoff your internet for a predetermined time while you write. It’s sad that I have to rely on this, but hey, whatever it takes, I say.
5. Write today, tomorrow, and forever.
If you don’t commit to writing everyday, you’re dead before you get started. I’m not talking about setting aside two hours everyday to write (do people really have that?!) but you must get some writing finished everyday. Yes, you’ll miss a day every now and then–for example, I wouldn’t suggest writing on your anniversary, unless you want it to be your last–and six out of seven days will do just fine, but write, write, write. My life is busy, as I’m sure yours is, but I try to get at least 500 words down a day. It adds up fast, believe me.