There Came A Day When I Wasn't There
On Becoming Me in this Powerful Play of Life

How Not To Write A Book - Or Anything Else

How not to write a book or anything else

by Yvonne DiVita, Book Coach and Author 

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 a while. Consistency is key. So once a month is enough. You should be done by the time you're 90. If you make it to 90.

Second, read other people's work and copy them. Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery or something like that. You'd love to have people take your work and copy it. Right?

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. After all, you were there in third grade when they taught you how to write a letter. How hard can writing a book be? Just a bunch of letters put together. 

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 <not> easy. Just ask anyone who's written one.

Writing a book is easy

You sit down at your desk and you write. Maybe you write on paper, with a 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. 

I scrawled word after word, page after page, and because I was left-handed, much of it was smeared at the end. Still, I composed 300 pages and my 7th-grade teacher was pretty impressed. 

Now, after you've committed words to paper - okay, words to keyboard because today you must, must, must, have a digital copy>>>No one reads print manuscripts anymore - 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 bookstores 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 don't hide in the attic like a starving writer (please, that old myth has been put to bed so many times, I hate to even bring it up), shivering in the cold, sipping ice water and eating stale bread. 

You find a proper place to write, and do it every day. Okay, sometimes you get off the right path, and you may even get lost among the varying plot lines of your story - sometimes, believe it or not - the story and the characters take over your life and they begin to write the story doesn't get better, it only gets more confusing. So you find a group of trusted professionals to help guide you back on the right path.

Not to mention - that age-old monster πŸ††πŸ†πŸ…ΈπŸ†ƒπŸ…΄πŸ†'πŸ†‚ πŸ…±πŸ…»πŸ…ΎπŸ…²πŸ…Ί! It rears its head more often than you think. There you are, all set to finish Chapter Four and...nothing. Your brain is sludge. All you can think of is that stupid song you were singing last night as you fell asleep. Well, this is when you need those trusted professionals. They'll help you deal with writer's block and keep you accountable to get that book done. 

Plus...there are a few more things to think of

If you're planning to be an Indie author, and so many of us are these days - it's a growing way to both own your own work and to become a thought leader - you need to take time out to decide how to publish and market your book. At Master Book Builders we use KDP to publish and distribute and we work closely on the marketing plan with our authors, you might prefer to print through a printer and find your own distributor. If you have the time and inclination - and money - to do so. 

All of this is time-consuming. It could take 40 -50-60 hours a week or more. For truly prolific writers, it may only take 20 -30 hours - including the time to research your publishing and marketing options. Still, note the word 'hours'... not minutes. And the word 'week.' Which really means, "weeks" - plural. Maybe it even means 'months'. Yes, I think perhaps it does. 

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 may take content from her blog to create...a book.

A big part of the writing of a book involves original thought and research, both for business books and fiction books. Just because you know your plot city well, after all, you live there, doesn't mean you shouldn't do some legwork to really get familiar with it.  The better to make your internal stories and plotline come alive. If your city is entirely fictional, I bet it's based on a city or cities you already know. Don't play false with your reader - know what you are talking about. Research it.

Note on the mention above about '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. You learn from them, but you do not copy what they have written and pass it off as yours. Cite your sources at all times. 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. 

Writing a book is a serious endeavor

Give it the respect it deserves.

If you're planning to write a book this year, here's what I want you to do:

  • Study writing.
  • Take writing classes.
  • Prepare to put time, effort, and investment into it. 
  • Engage a proper developmental editor
  • Understand your publishing options
  • Understand your audience and how to reach them
  • Give your book the attention it needs

You'll have to be persistent. Because writing with born-talent is rare, as Jeff Goins says.  There are hundreds of writers who π–‘π–Šπ–†π–—π–“π–Šπ–‰βœhow to be writers by writing and studying, 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 critical point here is that honest, talented, purposeful writing is a learned discipline. Much like acting. Or public speaking. Some of us are very good at it from the start - and still require training to get better - and others need a little extra help. It's nothing to be worried about. I believe writing 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 newsletter where we go into more detail on writing, publishing, marketing, book design, and what it takes to be a successful author. Served up every Friday morning. A good snack for your morning break.

  Writing is learned.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)