You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. – Jack London
Almost done with my novel, I can sense it. I think there’s about a month left until the first draft is done, and – if all goes well – all the revisions will be done and it’ll be published, perhaps December or January. I’m very proud of it so far, and I think – I hope – it’ll leave a mark. I wanted to share with you what I learned, because I almost waited too long.
I used to think you needed to be brilliant, or wait for inspiration in some café. Turns out, that’s really not the case. What I found is, it’s just a grind. You show up at the café, and you start writing, 8 in the morning – and you don’t get up until at least 2 pm. If you do that, you’ll have at least 1,000 words down – and maybe more like 3,000.
They may not be good. Some days you’ll struggle cranking out 1,000 wimpy little words, and it’ll be hot garbage. Other days, you’ll fly through, and it’ll sing off the page. Regardless – you do it every day. Five days a week, as best you can.
Guess what? After 6-9 months, you’ve got yourself a first draft of a nice little book there.
Of course, we’re not DONE yet. Now you’ve got to rewrite, where you take that pile of bricks and try to make it into a house. But, my friend, you are ALMOST there. And all it took was sitting down and writing that first page.
Do everything they tell you to do. Tell your friends that you’re writing a book, so you’re committed. (That was huge for me. Telling people I was a writer gave me a little ego boost and I found, over time, it actually became true.) Make it a topic you really like – you don’t want to spend a year or more of your life with something you aren’t truly interested in. And find a publisher before you invest too much time in your book, and (hopefully) get a contract. A good editor will help with guiding you so what you write will be worth reading. Even if you end up self-publishing, going through the work of putting together a proposal and an outline is so worth it.
For me, I really enjoyed the research phase. But if you’re not careful, you’ll spend all your time studying and looking through other people’s work – and not doing any of your own. So, on the bad days, sometimes I’d do very little writing, just research. But usually I’d force myself to write those 1,000 words first – and THEN treat myself with a book or video for research.
Just don’t wait too long. One of my favorite authors is Norman Maclean, who wrote “A River Runs Through It” and – posthumously – “Young Men and Fire”, both incredible classics. The tragic thing was, he started so late – when he was 71 years old! It’s such a terrible waste.
Don’t wait for inspiration. What you’ve got to say is something that needs to be shared, that will add value to the world. Set a goal, tell your friends about it, and start plugging away.
So, do you think you have a book in you? Something amazing and creative, something you’ve never seen anywhere before? I do too. And I can’t wait to read your first book!