It’s really easy to think about writing a book. Whether you imagine yourself sitting in a quiet, comfortable place – pouring your heart and soul into a beautiful piece of writing – or topping the bestsellers list on Amazon, the pre-writing process is incredibly exciting. You are full of ideas and inspiration, ready to give the world your unique voice. It’s time to show everyone what YOU are made of…
So how come that manuscript has been sitting on your desk for 6 months?
The reality is, writing is a lot of hard work. It’s not just a test of your creativity, but of your resilience and commitment too. The literary graveyard is chock full of writers who never made it past first-base, failing to even complete the first draft of their work. Here’s how you can avoid becoming one of them:
Tip 1 – Change it up!
When writing a book, I’m a firm believer that your scenery is very important. The creative mind is very volatile, and easily impacted by the most minute of details. It’s very easy for the writing process to become stale and boring, and this is exasperated by staying in one place for too long. It sounds cliché, but there are thousands of stories to be told just by looking out of a window – and no two windows are the same. So, think about where you are writing, and whether it’s worth switching things up.
Tip 2 – Write something new
This is a risky strategy, but I’ve seen it pay off. Sometimes, you just become too attached to a single piece of work. This isn’t a healthy mindset to have – because it’s really important to try and look at your work objectively. If you’ve been spending too long on just one piece of work, then try and write something else for a while. Try and write about something completely different, fresh and brand new. Then, come back to your book. You might find that the gap has done you a world of good.
Tip 3 – Plan your plot
This is more of a tip that comes at the start of the writing process, but it’s really important to plan your plot as thoroughly as possible, before you start writing. As I said, the creative mind is very fragile. If you get halfway through your book and suddenly realise that the plot is full of holes, then you have a ready-made excuse to drop the work and ‘come back to it later’, and that’s not what you want! Don’t put blocks in your way. Clear the creative path beforehand, and your life will be much easier.
Tip 4 – Remember that your voice matters
One of the most common reasons for why writers stop writing, is that they stop believing in their own work. Writing is a really scary process, and publishing your book makes you vulnerable and open to criticism. For some people, the thought of this is just too much. They put in all of the groundwork, only to falter down the final stretch, and don’t complete their work. Don’t be one of these people. While it’s important that you can critique your own work, it’s equally important for you to believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid of publishing your book, and don’t be afraid of criticism either. You should never let the fear of what other people think hold you back. This is your work, and your book – so own it!
Tip 5 – Stop editing
If you’re struggling to write, then it might be time to change up the way you write. This tip is mainly for those of you who edit whilst you write, and it’s simply this – stop! Now, before anyone gets annoyed, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with this approach. In fact, for some writers I think that it’s a great approach. However, it does slow you down. If you are struggling, then it might be an idea to try and remove the editing process from the equation. Just write, don’t edit. Just try and get as many words down on the page as you can, and keep going. The editing part can come once the work has been written.
Tip 6 – Read!
All writers need to read, and that is an absolute fact. Reading doesn’t just provide us with inspiration, it teaches us how those who came before approached their work, and good writers will learn vital lessons from this. If you are feeling low on inspiration, put down your manuscript and pick up a book from one of your favourite authors. Read for a few hours, then go back to your own work and see if you can spot any difference.
Tip 7 – Try some writing exercises
Writing exercises can be extremely useful, and often improve your work in a way that you perhaps wouldn’t expect. If you are struggling, take a break and try some fun games and exercises. There are an almost infinite amount of things you can do. You can find any number of exercises using the internet. If one doesn’t work, try another. From memory games to ‘quick fiction’, writing exercises are a great way to get you thinking creatively.
Tip 8 – Consider joining a writers’ workshop
Now, let me preface this by saying that writers’ workshops are certainly not for everyone. As someone who has participated in many a workshop, I would say that you need to have relatively thick skin to make the best use of workshops. The idea of strangers criticising your work, often in a no-holds barred manner, can be very intimidating, and it’s only natural that some people wouldn’t want to open themselves up to this. However, it can be incredibly useful. Despite the spectacularly harsh feedback that I got from my own workshops, I feel that this actually improved my writing. It kicked me into gear to improve and better my work, in part so that I would avoid being criticised the next time I submitted! If you value an honest approach, and want to listen to ideas on how to improve your work, then consider joining a writers’ workshop.
Tip 9 – Exercise
Now, I know you wouldn’t necessarily equate writing with exercise, but hear me out. Exercise is incredibly important. It keeps you fit and healthy, and it also keeps you focused. The better your physical condition, the better your mental condition – and your mental condition has an enormous impact on your writing. From personal experience, when I’m struggling to write, I just get up and go out for a run. When I’m done, I come back, take a half hour break and then get started writing again. I find that my mind is clearer and sharper as a result of the exercise, and running has allowed me to take stock of what matters – writing fantastic content!
Tip 10 – Just write!
That’s right (no pun intended), stop making excuses! Stop wishing for the perfect moment to fall into your lap, stop trying different ways to get your mental groove back, just sit down on that chair and put pen to paper. It doesn’t even have to be for long. 20 minutes per day is more than enough, just as long as you get half a page written. Sit down, and focus. Get writing!
BONUS TIP – Have a writing and publishing mentor
Having someone experienced in the publishing industry to help you achieve your writing goals is absolutely vital. Being a writer can often be an isolated experience. However, if you get yourself a mentor to not only hold you accountable, but also provide much needed support when needed, they will ensure you reach the finishing line in good time! The author of this article, Richard McMunn, is a bestselling author and award-winning publisher. Richard runs free 1-day book writing and publishing training courses for aspiring authors, and you can find out more at the website http://www.BookPublishingCourses.com.
About the author: Based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Richard McMunn is the bestselling author of the ‘How2Become’ series of career guides and the founder of his own unique VIP author mentoring programme. After leaving school in Lancashire with just 3 GCSEs, Richard went on to join the Royal Navy — serving four years onboard HMS Invincible as an aircraft engineer. After leaving the navy, Richard took up a childhood ambition to become a firefighter with Kent Fire and Rescue Service where he served for seventeen years. Today, Richard works as a full-time author and publisher and to date has authored 150 books and helped over 100 aspiring writers become published authors. He has also been awarded the IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year and the Nielsen Digital Marketing Award. How To Write & Publish A Bestselling Book: My journey from firefighter to bestselling author and how you can do it too! by Richard McMunn (published by How2Become Ltd 26th February 2018 in paperback and ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers and to order from all good bookstores. For more information, please go to http://www.bookpublishingcourses.com/