Yep, you read that right, and I’ll say it again. Please, don’t just write a book.
This probably goes against so many things you’ve heard, all of the people saying, “Do it! Go for it!” And yes, while you should absolutely chase your writing dreams…
…that doesn’t start with writing a book.
Driving a Car
When you learned to drive a car, you didn’t just instantly jump in a car and start driving at 15. First, you had to learn and study all of the rules of the road. Then, you had to spend many hours practising driving with an adult beside you. At 16, you had to take a test, and then–yay! You could drive!
You can apply this to pretty much any skill. I believe that we are all gifted to do different things, but even then, we are not born with an innate ability to do that thing. We still have to learn and practise.
So this is where my point comes in: don’t just write a book. That is not the first step. Everyone and their mom is publishing a book nowadays, which is why it may seem like it, but don’t let the masses fool you.
There’s a better way.
Sticking with the car analogy, you have to start off small before you can get in a car and drive on your own. In other words: before you write a book, you just need to write.
When I was in elementary school, I dreamed of being a writer simply because I loved to write. I had a green folder (that’s still around somewhere!) where I kept all of my many wide-ruled notebook pages full of my huge cursive writing. I wrote about school, I wrote about my friends, I wrote about characters I loved, I wrote about my family, I created stories… I wrote about anything. This continued into middle school and high school where I started to come up with more of my own stories. I even had my friends and family read them.
And I had no idea at the time, but all of that writing I did was perfect practice for what I’m doing now.
Later in high school, I learned about a Christian writing forum where people could post their work and have it critiqued while also being exposed to other people’s works and commenting on them. Excited at the prospect, I joined, posted some of my stuff…
…and got torn to shreds. (In a very kind way!) I quickly realised that, though I’d had people read over my work before, having other writers critique me was completely different. I began to hone my style, which really helped me as the next big step in my writing journey approached.
Seek out opportunities to write and have your work critiqued. It may sting a little, but it will help you grow exponentially. And all the while, just keep writing.
If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably heard of NaNoWriMo. (If you haven’t, check it out here! It’s really neat!) It’s been around for quite a while, and it’s a great low-stakes way to write a book and give yourself a time limit in which to do so.
After I’d been writing for years and years, I knew it was time to do something more. My friends told me about NaNo and I decided to give it a shot. I “won” three years in a row and was honestly astounded at what I’d done. The books I’d written weren’t polished, but I had the general ideas down, and there were lots of good things too. I’d learned so much just from the experience of writing a complete book.
Before you decide to publish, find a low-stakes opportunity like NaNoWriMo where you can write a book and fine-tune it afterwards.
The best way to learn to write is to practise. The second best way? To read.
If you don’t read books, how can you expect to write one? And if you’re writing a YA fantasy novel but you’ve only read self-help books, that doesn’t help much either.
Luckily, I accidentally set myself up for success in this area, too. Growing up, I was always reading! Even today, as my life is much busier, I purposefully carve out time in my schedule to read. It’s so important to know what a good book is made up of before you write one.
Read good books. Better writing will follow.
Once you feel like your next step is to write that book of your dreams, there are so many resources out there to help you (like this blog)! Countless books, articles, YouTube videos, and more are dedicated just to teaching you how to write a book.
Once you’ve practised your writing and done a lot of reading, you’re already where you need to be. Getting that insider information from experts gives you just that extra boost you need to make your book great.
The real question is this: do you want your book to be mediocre, or do you want it to be stellar? There are so many mediocre books out there; I review them nearly every day. People aren’t dedicating time to actually practising their craft before they write a book, and it shows.
It will take time. It will take dedication. It will take hard work.
But it’s never too late to start on your journey. If you put in the effort, the end product will be beyond what you could have ever dreamed of.
Have any questions about the writing process? Is there a book writing topic you’d like me to discuss? Drop a comment and let me know!