By guest blogger, Jessica Kinney
Like me, I’m sure all of you at one time or another has read a book and thought, “I can do this.” If you enjoy reading and read regularly, you likely can write a book, especially if you devote yourself to the process.
I’ve always been an incessant reader and have thought more times than I can count how much I wanted to write my own book some day. One day I decided to stop thinking about it and just do it, mainly because I didn’t want to get to a point in my life where I felt it was too late to try.
My husband had told me a story about something that he did when he was a little boy, and I’d always thought it would make a wonderful children’s book. It took almost 2 years to write, but I wrote his particular story into a children’s picture book, which was published last year. If you’re considering writing a book, of any kind, here are some suggestions to help you through the writing process.
One important detail that isn’t necessarily a separate step in the process, but is crucial: read, read, read! That may sound like a community service announcement, but in order to be an effective writer, you have to be an effective reader. I hope reading is already a regular activity for you, but even if it isn’t, you still can write a book, as long as you take time to read a variety of writers (and read those writers with a critical eye). Reading exposes you to different ideas, thoughts, points of view, and that exposure to different voices is essential to finding your voice as a writer.
- Get organized – I know, you’re saying, “This blog post is part of ListPlanIt, of course she’s going to say something about organization!” but it’s true. Before embarking on a writing project, you have to have a plan in order to complete your project successfully (i.e., finish it!). You may have the best idea for a book, but that idea will only get you so far until you figure out exactly how you’ll be writing your book. Will you be using your laptop or paper to write? Do you have writing implements? Do you have time and space carved out for this activity? What type of book will you write?
- Brainstorm ideas/details – Once you’ve got a plan of attack, start attacking by letting ideas/thoughts flow for a while. Give yourself one hour of uninterrupted time (at a coffee shop, or at the library, if you can’t seem to find a quiet space at home) and start typing or writing. Don’t edit yourself (not yet, anyway); this is the time to let it all out, and while you may come up with ideas that never make it into your book, it’s still an important part of the process. And those unused details might be part of your next book!
- Make an outline – I can’t stress enough how important this is, no matter what kind of book you’re writing. Your outline should have at least three sections: Beginning, Middle, and End, and then bullet points under each of those sections. It may sound silly, but taking the time to make this foundation as solid as possible will pay off for you (and your readers). My editor told me in our first meeting that because my story had a clear beginning, middle, and end, it stood out to the editing team. She said that I would be shocked at how many manuscripts she’s seen that lack a solid, logical structure. Again, take the time and effort to make a strong outline!
- Do your research – The devil is in the details, but let’s face it, details are important in writing. In order for your story to have credibility, you should make sure you get details correct. This is true for both fiction and nonfiction works.
- Write, re-write & repeat – The first draft of your work is just that, a draft, and no matter how happy you are with it, be prepared to write a second, a third, even a 15th, draft. As you write new drafts, you’ll recognize sentences that sound awkward, plot points that need to be explored, paragraphs that need trimming, etc.
- Persevere! – Writing a book takes time and hard work, and it can be incredibly frustrating at times. Seek out encouragement from family and friends, and even consider asking a friend to help read your drafts as you go. I don’t think I was quite prepared for how long the whole process would take when I started writing, and there were times when I doubted myself and considered giving up. I’m grateful that I persevered if for no other reason than the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finished. If you believe in your idea, and in your abilities to bring that idea to life for others to read, keep at it. Good luck!
Jessica Kinney is a writer, wife, and mother of six children. She is on a never-ending quest to find peace, quiet, and the perfect cup of coffee. Her first children’s book, The Pig Scramble, was published last October. You can find out more about Jessica and her book at www.jessicakinneybooks.com