by Yvonne DiVita, Big Idea Facilitator
Advice on how not to write a book, or anything else, is fairly easy to compile.
First, don't sit at your computer daily. Do it once in awhile.
Second, read other people's work and copy them.
Third, be confident in the knowledge that you already know how to write, so writing a book, or a blog post, or a marketing piece, is easy peasy.
This is not a new subject. Better minds than mine have written copious blog posts about it.
And, copious more blog posts will be written about it, in the future.
Writing a book is easy. Ask anyone who's written one.
You sit down at your desk and you write. Maybe you write on paper, with pen or pencil as I did back in my youth. My first book, written when I was in 7th grade, was done all in pencil, on notebook paper. It was a romantic novel. Because I knew so much about romance in the 7th grade.
Once you've committed words to paper, you take your work and submit it to an editor or an agent. And, you get a publisher. And you publish your book and go on a book tour all around the country. People flock to book stores where you're appearing and listen, wide-eyed with wonder, as you read page after page of your selected chapter, and they then rush to the book signing table to have you sign their copy of your auspicious book.
You leave the bookstore tired, fulfilled, and thousands of dollars richer.
Except. It doesn't happen that way at all. It's more like this:
You put fingers to keyboard (or pen/pencil to paper, I know some writers still do that), day after day after dayafterdayafterday. You write and rewrite and review and edit and revise and then you write some more.
Meanwhile, because you're smart, you share what you're writing with a small select group of trusted individuals who help guide you along the right path. Sometimes you get off the right path, and you may even get lost among the varying plot lines of the story - sometimes, believe it or not - the story and the characters take over your life and they begin to write the story and...it doesn't get better, it only gets more confusing. Sometimes their help is needed, but for the most part, your group of trusted friends and/or family are the ones who keep you on track.
You also take time out to begin exploring places to market your book. And ways to publish your book.
All of this is somewhat time consuming. It could take 40 -50-60 hours a week, or more. For truly prolific writers, it may only take 20 -30 hours. Still, note the word "hours"... not minutes.
This applies to blog posts in much the same way. You must put in time, energy, research, and review, to be a successful blogger. Because a successful blogger is, actually, a writer. And someday, said successful blogger will probably take content from the blog to create...a book.
A big part of the writing of a book does involve an agent, certainly an editor, and generally a proofreader (editors are not proofreaders, just to be clear). It also involves original thought. Note above, 'copying other people's work'. You already understand plagiarism is wrong. You never, ever, ever, ever copy someone else's work and present it as your own. Know also that citing someone else's work involves respect and consideration. Be selective in what you use and how much you use. Copyright is a universal right and it applies to all of us. Your work is just as much yours, as mine is mine.
Ok, we've uncovered the best way not to write a book, so how to you figure out the best way to write a book (or anything else because truth be told, writing is a craft that requires attention on a daily basis)?
That's easy. You study writing. You take classes at University or your local library. You put time, effort, and investment into it.
As you study, you write. If you're lucky, your work will show you the way forward.
If you're not lucky, you'll have to be persistent. Because writing with born-talent is rare. There are hundreds of writers who learned how to be writers, and are now quite successful at their craft, because they kept at it. The hundreds who are overnight successes - well, I submit that they just might not be as overnight as their PR managers would have us believe.
The important point here is that honest, talented, purposeful writing is learned. It requires a desire to love words so much, you eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every single day. And in-between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you snack on poetry or classic narrative, to keep your focus sharp.
Write well. Sign up for our Big Idea News - it's a good snack for your morning break.