Writing and publishing a book is not easy. But it’s not difficult either. The competition is high and with productivity threatened by the endless distractions of modern life, it is no wonder we struggle to find and nurture our creative flow. Here are a few tried and tested tips on how to be a modern writer.
ONE – Don’t be afraid to go Indie
There is a lot of debate about what the best approach to publishing is for a modern writer. However there seems to be many more traditionally published writers turning to self-publishing than the other way round. That says something.
Self-published books can be in the reader’s hands in a matter of months rather than years as is the case with traditional publishing.
Crucially, the indie author retains all rights and retains total control of the whole publishing process; from the cover design, to editing, pricing and marketing.
However, be warned. This option can be pricey since self-publishing doesn’t mean doing everything on your own. Hiring professionals, especially when it comes to the cover design and editing is of paramount importance and don’t be fooled into thinking that you can do it all on your own. Still, it is an option well worth considering if circumstances allow.
TWO – Set daily quotas
In words, not time. Don’t deceive yourself by saying you are working x amount of hours each day. We all know how easy it is to look out the window, make another cup of tea, or get carried away with some essential “research” on the net in order to avoid putting words on the page.
Instead set an achievable daily goal of 500 words, or 1000 or more if your circumstances allow – and make sure you hit your target each day, no matter what. Do it consistently 6 days a week and you will have a first draft ready in about three months. There is a trick…which brings us on to point number THREE:
THREE – Develop a ritual
Now that you’ve broken down your goal into attainable word quotas, make sure you fill them every day without fail. It gets easier as you do it, that’s the beauty of rituals, the more you do something the more effortless it becomes. Sounds simple? Trust me it is. Of course you may still have some days worse than others but you must persist in writing no matter how bad you think it is. It is always better to edit a badly written scene than have a blank page.
Disconnect from the internet while you are working on your daily word count. Make notes of any facts or figures you may want to verify once you are online again. Not before you’ve hit the word target.
FOUR – Network with fellow writers
There are a lot of great blogs on writing and online writer forums. Search and find the ones you can relate to. Contribute, learn and don’t forget to share the good and relevant stuff with your peers.
FIVE – Buy a skipping rope
I am not the first to say it, but, seriously – exercise helps. And if you can find a colourful rope, even better. It will make your workout more fun.
Not into skipping? Fine – go running, boxing, karate-chopping, whatever takes your fancy just get your butt moving.
SIX – Invest in a good pen and always carry a notebook with you
You don’t want cheap ink to stain your bag, hands and face. Or worse – smudge your carefully crafted words to illegibility. And if you forget your notebook at home, your magic pen will make writing on serviettes a whole lot easier.
SEVEN – The Muse is a Myth – and I’ll say it as many times as necessary
The ritual is everything. Stop waiting for the inspiration to hit you on your head. Get your arse in the chair and start working on your daily word count. The Muse and the story will then reveal themselves.
EIGHT – Don’t just practise patience. Become it
It takes 9 months for a baby to be born. The average apple tree bears fruit after 4 years and, grown from a seed, a pineapple guava will yield harvest only after 10 years.
You choose your own time-frame for writing and publishing a book. Be willing to put in the effort and don’t expect results overnight.
NINE – Be a squirrel
Don’t throw away any material, notes or ideas. Save everything on a separate document. You never know when it may come in handy.
TEN – Use technology
Make sure you have a note-taking app on your phone in case you’ve lost your pen or forgot your notebook. Make use of the voice-recording feature and take photos when spotting an interesting location or doing research for a project.
Dictionary and Thesaurus apps are a must for a writer – don’t be shy in using them too.
ELEVEN – Be nosy
Listen to conversations on the bus, in cafes, in the park. It might give you ideas and inspire your writing. Jot them down as you hear them.
TWELVE – Read as much as you can
Writers have always been avid readers. Read as a writer and be open to learn from others.
THIRTEEN – Have lots of Coffee and Peanut Butter
This magical combo really helps a modern writer. Don’t worry about putting on weight. You’ve bought yourself a skipping rope, right?
FOURTEEN – Celebrate your work
Writing a novel is a lengthy process. When it’s over throw a party to reward yourself for all the efforts and the hard work. You totally deserve it.
FIFTEEN – Write
Get back to writing. Maybe not straight after the party but soon after. You are a writer – so go write.
Write. Write. Write.