Sorry I missed last Friday, I have no brilliant excuse only that I was off enjoying the sunshine. The weather was so nice here last week and it’s such a rare event in Ireland to have actual sunshine in the summer that we have to make the most of it when we get it. Today for example is grey and drizzly but on the plus side it’s a bank-holiday this weekend in Ireland.
Anyway enough of my obsession with the weather, today I’m talking about where to begin when writing a book. Sometimes people say to me that they have a great idea for a book but they don’t know where to start. Considering that most commercial fiction books are 100,000+ words in length it can be extremely daunting when you are faced with a blank page and you can often feel overwhelmed before you even begin (believe me, I feel the same way with each book I start).
For me, the key is to do it in small steps. For example I set myself a daily word target of 1,000 words. Some days I achieve it, some days I don’t, but I do try to make up for it another day. If you write a thousand words a day you will have a first draft of a novel in three months – even if you can only manage 500 words a day, you will have a first draft in six months. Once you make writing a daily part of your life, it really does get easier to sit down every day (I promise!).
You need to be disciplined with any free time you have. If you have small children then you need to grab the opportunities as they present themselves. I write when my children are in bed. If you work full-time is it possible to write on your lunch-break a couple of days a week? Or turn off Coronation Street. When writing becomes a habit, you get into a rhythm. You gain traction and the story is carried forward. I find if I break the habit for even a few days it’s hard to pick up the momentum again and I lose flow.
I also think it’s also helpful to surround yourself with people who will keep you motivated. Join a writing group or look up other writers on Twitter or Facebook. It can be very encouraging to know that other people are going through the same things you are and you can encourage each other. Most authors are on twitter nowadays and it can be reassuring to see that they have the exact same worries and doubts about their own work-in-progress.
By taking small steps every day, you will soon see your word-count start to grow. Try not to look too far ahead and congratulate yourself when you hit a milestone, for me it’s every 10,000 words. Before you know it you will be at the ‘murky middle’, which is what I’m going to talk about next week…
Have a fabulous weekend,
P.S. If you missed the last one, I was talking about whether you should ‘Summer Reading’ here ?