This week brings you a wonderful entry by my friend and guest blogger, J.T. Bishop.
I am often told by people when they learn I’m a writer how they’ve always wanted to write a book. How they have a book in them but don’t have the time to write it. Or how they’ve started but never finished. I always encourage them, but few follow through.
As the author of now nineteen books, I used to be one of those people. I’d had numerous false starts and plenty of unfinished work sitting on a file on my laptop, but that nagging feeling never left me. One day back in 2012, I sat and started writing (again), only this time I kept going. When the doubts cropped up, I ignored them. I just wanted to finish. And six months later, I did. Since then, I’ve learned a lot. My journey is not impossible. If you’re one of those people who feels your literary masterpiece is only a few typewritten words away, then this is for you.
My first piece of advice would be to know your goals. Is this just for fun? Do you want to make some money from your book? Do you want to make a career out of writing? If so, do you want to traditionally publish or go indie? Your answers will lead you in various directions and may even affect what you choose to write, so do a little research first.
Once you start to write, don’t stop. This is critical. Don’t overthink the words. Trust your story and trust your gut. You know the tale you want to tell, but all too frequently for most, the inner critic surfaces and tells you how crappy your story is. DON’T BELIEVE IT. Just keep going. Get your butt in the chair and continue typing. When I wrote my first book, I fell into the same trap. Frustrated, I told myself that no one has to see it. If it’s terrible, it will never make the light of day, but at least I could say I finished. And once you finish, you’ll realize it’s not as bad as you think. In fact, it might even be pretty good.
Characters have a mind of their own. They’ll take your story to places you never anticipated, and it can be a little annoying. I like to give them free rein, though, and see where they take me. They rarely disappoint and will usually come up with a better story line than I had planned. Moral? Go with the flow. You might be surprised where it leads. Some of your best stuff won’t show up until you start to write. Once you show the universe you’re serious, it will back you up a hundred percent. Start showing up.
Let go of assumptions. You do you. Once you dive in, you’re going to hear an amazing amount of advice. From craft, to what to write, how fast to write it and how often you should put words to paper. If choose to publish, you’ll learn how often you should publish, what courses will help, how and where to advertise, and that’s just the beginning. It never ends. I used to get hung up on the write every day rule. I finally realized that, for me, it’s not true. I pick up the pen almost every day, but when I’m not feeling it, I take a break. And when I’m in between books, I need a reset. Learn what works for you and trust it.
And once you successfully complete your masterpiece, you’ll soon realize that writing your book is the easy part. Assuming you’re doing this to make some money, this is absolutely true. Once you finish, there’s a myriad of things to accomplish next. Editing, proofing, a book cover and blurb, reviews, a newsletter, social media, budgeting, and marketing are just a few of things you’ll need to embrace. The writing piece is small potatoes compared to this. If you want to make a serious living from your work, you’ll have to become an expert in all of the above (even if you’re traditionally published).
And all of the above is impossible without mindset. This is the big one. If you don’t believe you can write a book, if you continue to come up with reasons why you can’t, then you’re correct. It will never get done. You have to find a way to confront this problem and banish it. There’s nothing special about me, other than I told myself I had a great story and I wanted to write it, and then I got busy. Now I have nineteen books with two more on the way. This is doable. If you’re passionate and determined, nothing will stop you.
There’s lots more I could mention, but this is plenty to start with. Any writer you talk to will have their own suggestions and advice, all of it valuable. If you give this a serious go, I think you’ll find that what you need to know will show up when you need it. The amount of work is eye-opening but also fun. If you’re like me and you love crafting a story, bringing it to the public and helping a reader escape from the real world for a few hours or more a day, then all of the effort is worth it. Especially when you see people enjoying your work. There’s no better feeling.
So, the next time you find yourself saying you could write a book if it weren’t for…add your reasons here, just remember that there’s nothing stopping you other than you. And keep in mind the advice above. Do your homework, make a plan, get started, and let go of the reins. You might be surprised at where it may lead.
J.T. Bishop is an award-winning author who writes mystery thrillers with a supernatural edge. Growing up, she read books by Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, and Dean Koontz, devoured every episode of the X-files, and watched plenty of TV shows with great partnerships that left her wanting more. She loves tangled relationships, unexpected twists and turns, heart-stopping love stories and the complications that come with all the above. Throw in a little supernatural fun and she’s hooked. Her evil plan is to hook you, too.
She’s the author of The Red-Line Trilogy and its sister series, The Fletcher Family Saga, which features touches of urban fantasy, light sci-fi, and paranormal romance. She’s also happily writing mystery thrillers featuring two charismatic detectives who may occasionally encounter a supernatural villain or two, and a crossover series which follows the exploits of a gifted, but troubled, paranormal P.I. and his spunky sister.
All the above keeps her busy, but in her spare time, she loves a good movie, tasty food, an unfortunate sugar addiction, and traveling.
Get caught up with J.T. and her writing adventures at www.jtbishopauthor.com. And while you’re there, get a short story prelude to her first book for free, plus a novella and a few other offerings. You can find her on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/J.-T.-Bishop/e/B00P2O61IE