You have tons of great ideas in your head, but getting them all out on paper (or on computer, as the case often is today), seems harder than climbing Mt. Everest!
You’re creative. You’re smart.
Writing a book shouldn’t be that hard.
You’re not alone on the Writing Struggle Bus. Even the most prolific authors have challenges getting their manuscripts to completion at times. To help you get through that labor of love (and, yes, sometimes a bringing a manuscript into this world is a lot like having a baby), here are 10 tips to help ensure your writing success.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff – It’s easy to get bogged down in the details when you’re writing your book. This often means you spend too much time worry about grammar and punctuation and whether or not Lance has shaggy, blonde hair or curly, dark hair, and your writing momentum gets lost. Just write! Don’t worry if you misused a comma or you called Kristi – Christy. You can catch that stuff in editing.
2. Turn everything else off – Put your phone on “Do not disturb”, close all your Internet browser tabs with social media and e-mails open and turn off the TV and radio. You may think you work better with this background stuff going on around you, but trust me these distractions can pull your concentration away from your writing – again, breaking that writing momentum.
3. Set goals – Set yourself a writing goal for each day. There’s an amazing annual writing project – NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) – that happens every November. Participants aim to write a 50,000-word manuscript in a month. Wow! That’s 1,667 words, on average, each day. Now, your goal may not be quite that hefty – perhaps your goal is 500 words a day – but whatever it is, give yourself a goal and don’t stop until you hit it.
4. Set a schedule – One of my favorite sayings is, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It is so true across so many different facets of life – including writing! If you do not plan a writing schedule and simply hope to fit in writing when time allows, you will likely never see your manuscript finished.
5. It’s OK to not go start-to-finish – Don’t think you have to write your book from beginning-to-end. If you have some great ideas for a chapter later on in the book, write that! If it’s just a single scene you have playing out in your mind, write that! You can piece it all together in the end.
6. Share your work – Writing is so very personal; I know it’s hard to put our babies out there into the world, especially if they’re not finished. However, sharing your work can help you stay motivated through accountability. Plus, you can get some early constructive criticism that will only make your work that much stronger, in the end. Look for local writers’ groups or online groups. Facebook has a ton of online groups for authors – from novice to experienced.
7. Read – Although reading isn’t going to directly get words on the page, it can help inspire you, plus help you learn what great writing is. Think of it this way – Could you ever be a great chef, without ever tasting food? Probably not! The same is true for writing. Stephen King said it best – “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.”
8. Bust through writer’s block – Even if it’s crap – just write and move on. I think this is the most valuable lesson I learned from participating in NaNoWriMo. I would be in mid-writing, the words flowing effortlessly from my fingers, into the keyboard and dashing across the screen… then BAM! It was like hitting a mental brick wall. I had no idea what to write next. I would sit there – typing a few words, then rapidly hitting the DELETE key. The only way to get past writer’s block is to just bust right through it. Just write anything – even if you hate it. Keep going until you hit that point where the words just start flowing again.
9. Outlines are OK – Outlines are OK… IF you’re an outline person. Guess what that means? Not having an outline is also OK. I personally am not an outline person. I remember is school having to turn in my outline for a writing assignment, before the paper was due. It was just as easy for me to write the paper, as it was to write the outline. So, I’d write the paper, then pull the outline from it. However, I know, that for some people, an outline helps them stay organized and keep on track in a story line or in a non-fiction work. Do what feels good to you!
10. Reward yourself – Writing is hard work! Non-writers really don’t get that. So, be sure to reward yourself periodically. Did you get a chapter finished? Give yourself a treat! Did you meet all of your goals and stayed on your writing schedule all week? Yup, reward yourself! Even a mental “Atta boy!” reminding yourself that you’re doing a good job can help keep you motivated. Be proud of the work you’ve accomplished!
Once your manuscript’s finished, give it a good hard edit. Then, we’d love to read it! Be sure to check our submission guidelines!