Writing a book is fun — sometimes. At other times, it’s a real struggle. So let’s look at three writing tips which will help you to finish your book, and publish it.
This past month, I’ve been coaching two writers who’ve had a huge struggles in finishing their books. One author’s new; this is her first book. The other author’s been writing and publishing ebooks since 2012.
Writing tips to help you to finish your book, and publish it
Every book you write is different. Some books flow from your fingertips like water gushing form a tap. Others are a struggle, from go to whoa. I’ve no idea why that’s so.
For one thing, expectations are a killer. The more importance you attach to a book, the more you’re likely to struggle with it. My student who’s been writing and publishing since 2012 was overwhelmed with expectations. Recently, his books started to sell. He’s determined that his current novel will be his breakthrough book — if only he could finish it.
Finally, he realized that he was putting too much pressure on himself. The moment he accepted that, and decided that he didn’t care whether or not his book sold, he saw how he could finish the book — and he’s well on his way to doing that.
My new-author student had too many expectations too, but of a different kind. She’d created an outline, and felt that she “should” stick to her outline. She’d also had a critique from a book doctor, which confused her horribly. She’d paid a lot of money, so she felt she “should” use all that great advice.
Here’s what helped both authors to finish their books: a book journal.
1. Create a book journal: write out your joys and woes, and finish your book
WRITING A BOOK? START A JOURNAL FOR IT — IT’S YOUR STORY OF SUCCESS
I handwrite my book journals, so choosing a journal is part of the fun. Often, I’ll pick out a journal for a book several months before I start writing it.
When I get an idea, that idea gets added to the journal. Character quirks, plot ideas, locations and photos — everything gets added to the journal.
If you know me, you know that I’m all about journaling. I have a stack (literally) of journals I use every day. Some of my journals track various parts of my business; I keep them in ring-bound binders, as well as in Day One, a Mac journaling app.
Others are project-specific journals. When I get an idea for a book, or other long project, I start a journal for it immediately. Before each day’s writing session on that project, I write in the journal.
A book journal keeps you on track. It contains your thoughts on the project, and it maintains your enthusiasm.
2. Kickstart your subconscious mind: use word lists — they’re the fun and easy way to generate text
Here’s a secret about writing. If you want to write and sell consistently, make this deal with yourself: when you sit down to write, you write, no matter what. You write whether there’s an idea in your head, or not. Writers write.
How do you accomplish that, even on your worst day, when you have a headache which would fell an elephant, when your kids are screaming, and when you have a dozen tasks you need to complete before you allow yourself to collapse?
You write word lists.
Ray Bradbury made lists of nouns:
“These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface. I was feeling my way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull.”
Here’s how to make word lists
Sit quietly for a moment. Close your eyes. Breathe. Count your breaths, on the inhale. Inhale (one); exhale. Inhale (two); exhale… And so on. Keep breathing and counting for ten breaths.
Then tap out ten words. Any words which occur to you.
Alternatively, you can set a timer for five minutes, and free write — write stream of consciousness style. You don’t need to write complete sentences.
Now you’ve got your list of words, and/ or your free write, start writing your project, immediately.
To repeat: make a deal with yourself that when you sit down to write, you WRITE.
Drop all your demands on yourself, and all your expectations, and write.
(Your word lists and free writes go into your book journal.)
3. Talk to yourself in your book journal — you know more than you think you do, and you’ll inspire yourself
Your mileage may vary, but over the years I’ve found that the biggest mistake I can make on a book is to talk about it to other people.
It’s guaranteed to kill my inspiration for the book stone dead, and I have a horrible time trying to finish it.
If you want to talk about your book, talk to yourself in your book journal, before you start your daily writing session. You can write anything you like to yourself.
- Ask questions (what should my protagonist do now? How can I surprise the reader?)
- Complain (I hate this book, why did I start it? It will never sell, and I’ve wasted all this time… yada, yada… :-))
- Dialogue with a character if you’re writing fiction (what’s your biggest fear? What do you want to do now?)
- List possible resources if you’re writing nonfiction (Google search queries, organizations you might contact, books you might read…)
You CAN finish your book. Remember, make this deal with yourself: when you sit down to write, you write. Start a book journal. You’ll surprise yourself with the fun you have completing your book. 🙂
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