Tuesday, May 6, 2014

So You Want to Write a Book

People frequently ask for my advice about writing. To me, it's kind of like someone coming up to you and saying, "Can you tell me how to become an electrical engineer?"

There's a lot that goes into being a writer. But I'll condense it down into a few bits of general advice:
  1. Write. Write every day. Write a lot. Write when you're happy. Write when you're discouraged. Write when you're busy. Just write. Keep writing until you finish your book. Listen to Lance Larsen if you need more motivation to do this.
  2. Read as much as you write. Read the best books you can find. Read non-fiction. Read fiction. Read about fashion, science, art, and anything else that has to do with the characters in your book. Listen to audiobooks if you don't have time to sit around reading.
Lots of people are extremely private about their writing. They don't want anyone to read what they wrote. But if you're planning to publish your writing, you'll have to go on to the next steps:
  1. Let people read what you wrote. Find people who will be honest and tell you what they think you could improve. Ideally, these people will also be positive enough not to discourage you from ever writing again. Don't be overly sensitive about criticism. The right kind of criticism will make you an awesome writer. (Not all criticism is equal, however; it's important to get more than two or three opinions on your book before you start to change things.)
  2. Revise. A lot.
  3. Learn as much as you can about writing. Read Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, Save the Cat by Blake Schneider, and any other writing books that interest you. Subscribe to writing blogs or newsletters. Go to writing conferences near you. Join writing groups in your community or online.
Once you've honed your writing skills, it's time to educate yourself about publishing. The best way to learn about publishing is to read writing blogs and attend conferences. In the process of learning, decide on your publishing goals. Do you want to self-publish? Or would you rather have a publisher? If you want to go through a publisher, you'll probably want an agent, which means you'll need to write a query letter to send to agents. If, like me, you publish with a small publisher, you don't necessarily need an agent, but you should educate yourself about publishing contracts before you sign one. 

I feel that it's one of my missions in life to provide clean books for people to read. We need more people writing clean books, so I'm always happy to have others join me in my quest to write more and better books. I wish you the best in your writing journey. I hope you enjoy the writing process as much as I have.

What's your best writing advice?

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