“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” – Ernest Hemingway
Everyone has a story to tell. I believe that. I also believe Hemingway is right: all we have to do to write well is open up a vein.
Writing is one of the most necessary activities. We need to communicate, whether it is by film, voice, letter, blogging, and by writing a book. There is no other form of creativity that is as intimate as writing a book. It exposes not only our thoughts, but the condition and motives of the heart.
The Truth: Writing Is Easy.
Writing is easy. It’s not too hard to pound the keys on a keyboard and type out a little story. That is, it’s easy until you begin to think about it. Is it good? And then you realize: it’s not good.
The Other Truth: Writing Well Is Hard.
The most grueling thing in writing each day is —writing each day. No matter how comfy the chair, no matter how sleek and powerful the computer, no matter how simply the clock says it’s time to write, it’s always easier to do other things.
BUT, if you love the story, you’ll get it onto the page.
How to Write a Book in 5 Steps
1. Set up a time and place to write each day.
The story stays fresh and continues to flow day after day by writing even a little—500 words–each day. Writing at a similar time each day can be beneficial. The body knows what to expect. The mind comes ready to write, and the flow is easier. The story becomes a place to look forward to going each day, if only for an hour.
2. Set up a file on a computer with the proper margins, font, etc., and give it a name.
Once your book has a name, it becomes real. At least for me, that is true. Format double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman, white paper, and simply write.
Since many books are devoted to this point, I’ll start by pointing to some I think are very helpful. The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, Novel Idea by Angela Hunt, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne, On Writing by Stephen King, and my personal favorites: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Stein on Writing by Sol Stein along with his How to Grow a Novel.
3. Read books, many of them, and find 5 you love.
A writer cannot write well if he or she does not read. By having a wide range of books in your reading repertoire, you learn how other writers write. Read great books, and you learn how great writers write. Read bad books and discover why those books are not great. And find your own direction by reading often and widely, the great books.
Find your voice. What is it that you most want to say? Type and type until you hear something irreplaceable come out. What is it you say that no one else can? That is what you must write.
5. Find other friends who write to help you along the journey.
Writing is a long and solitary process. There is no overnight success. It is not by the jolt of a lightning bolt that a great book is made, but by long hours staring at a screen, getting out of the way so that whatever resides inside may come onto the page.
The routine lends itself to the others in your life respecting your time to write. Distractions are always plentiful, but with a routine hour set aside each day, writing becomes a priority.
Need a Little Oomph to Keep On?
Join others who write.
Every November, the #NaNoWriMo phenomenon goes on — National Novel Writing Month — when writers complete an entire novel in one month. So you think one month is really not enough time to complete a first-draft of a novel? Especially a month with a week involving family and feasts and festivities? You might be right. But even if you don’t finish a novel in the month of November, the fact is there is no better time to start.
Writing is cathartic, therapeutic in ways which don’t have words to say it well enough. I am a better and more complete person by writing. Story is a powerful connector in the world. Fiction or non-fiction, there is no better way to engage than by writing and finishing the story that is in your heart.
When can I find time to write?
Swap the hour of watching television or surfing the web to instead write. Or the hour before everyone else wakes in the morning. Or the lunch hour at work or the hour after dinner. Just one hour is all you need. Every day.
The biggest challenge is moving past the blank page. The next biggest challenge is not giving up.
What is your biggest challenge when you write?