Holden Caulfield is a character that has largely been remembered for his distaste for the human race in general and yet his unwavering effort to find connection. He captures the essence of being a teenager in The Catcher in the Rye and it is among one of the first and most notable pieces in English literature that explore the teenage angst.
Writing a book is always hard. Getting it through the agents and past the editors to the publishers and all the way to the readers, having readers to begin with, is all very hard business. But the hardest part of writing is the ‘writing’. The hardest part yet is getting the pen to the paper and getting the words all out before you can decide if they’re the right ones.
The problem is that as a writer you’ve got a lot to express and more than often you have the skill to express it artistically. What you seem to lack is the work ethic to consistently do the one thing you’re actually good at. At times you might even have the idea. It’s not that you don’t enjoy it. It’s the expectations that get in the way of the process. So here are 10 steps that if you follow will lead to nothing but pure, unedited, unaltered, practical process of actually writing.
#1 The way to really write a book is to begin writing it.
It may sound as the most useless piece of advice but this is only real advice. You start and it doesn’t matter how you go about it but you keep going. One chapter day or one page a day. If it takes all the strength you’ve got, write one paragraph a day. But if you want to become a writer then write.
#2 And if writing it is important, trust me finishing it is also important.
Staying motivated enough to finish is important. Writing a sentence is easy. There is no mountain between one sentence and another and yet crossing enough sentences till you get a book seems like the most overwhelming task. The idea is to be consistent so as to make it less overwhelming and to keep the interest alive.
#3 Making lots of decision.
Being can writer can mean, at times, making lots of decisions. You have to decide what your book is going to be about. You have to decide your word count milestones that you can practically achieve in the day. You have to decide what you really want to write about because the lethargy that you face when writing might as well be a sign that this theme, or this process, or even writing, is not for you. Don’t let boredom go unnoticed because there is so much we can learn from it.
#4 Let the book happen.
One of the things that I find as repetitive advice is that you should let your trusted critiques have a look at the early drafts so they can point you into the right direction. And this is one I don’t agree to. If you let someone in on the process early on you don’t get to have the book or the draft, or the paragraph, just whatever you’ve got for the time being, all to yourself. You don’t get to write with the privilege of being completely unfiltered. And you can’t be as invested in your book if you feel in the early stages that it’s not even your book anymore, it’s just some book someone expects you to write. Isn’t writing hard enough as it is when dealing with your expectations that you go around getting involved in other people’s expectation. My advice would be to let the book happen. Writing isn’t meant to be done under a spotlight or a magnifying glass.
#5 Take the chapters seriously.
Every chapter has to be a short story of its own. It has to be a whirlwind of all the required events, all the crevices searched, all the literary devices exhausted. It has to be as complete as possible and incomplete enough to engage the reader into the next chapter. This is not necessarily a writing technique but this is how I like a book to be. I want to feel so lost reading that I’m surprised when the chapter is over that it was only a chapter that felt like a whole lifetime. This also doesn’t mean that the chapter has to be very long. It just has to be a fulfilling reading experience.
How is this writing advice? As a writer your commitment to the book should reflect in the amount of attention you paid to writing individual chapters. Individual chapters are not as paralyzing a commitment but if you write a good enough chapter you might find yourself wanting to top the last one.
#6 Blog about your book.
This might be one of those advises that contradict the previous ones. But here’s how it’s different. Blogs are different from editors or critiques. There is a variety of responses you come across and some the most unpredictable ones can make you realize something about your book. Blogging about your work is in a way staying productive while the book is in process. Blogging is can prepare you for how a ‘real’ audience will react to your work.
#7 Don’t let your ideas go missing.
Write your ideas down on a small piece of paper and throw it in a jar. That way you have a magical jar full of ideas. If that is not interesting enough you can fill up a journal with all of these and as a writer there really isn’t anything more aesthetically appealing than the ‘written’, written word. If not that either, use Evernote which is the best app for writing out there.
#8 Leave the editing for later
The writing cannot go hand in hand with the editing. You need to write with one kind of mindset and only after you’re done with that can you do the editing and with another kind of mindset. Writing has to be done freely and without the fear of any kind of judgment. Editing is quite the opposite. You have to judge your own work like you’re the professor presented with an assignment that reeks of last minute copy pasting.
#9 Don’t procrastinate
As the author of many things unfinished I can say that when it comes to writing there is nothing more difficult. It’s full part procrastination with only a pinch of initiative. You can add a little reading here and there to compensate for the time you don’t spend writing. It goes far because you’ll turn in the research paper that you have due but you won’t write the poem. I do a lot of what I call ‘planning’ and not as much of ‘creating’. We can all be such wonderful writers if stop doing that.
#10 Enjoy it.
If you’re going to stress about it, which is mostly the case, you will not enjoy writing anymore. And then the worst has already happened. What makes you a writer is primarily how much you enjoy it, not how much you stress about it.
Share your writing tips, and suggestions with me in the comments and let me know if this helped you start writing.
You know that day never arrives
There are always a million miles
The sunset I sink into
Is always pacing through
The walls the absorb every word
Don’t even know what they heard
Where are then the happy isles
In a galaxy of manic rhymes
Because there is a deadline
To I’ll be just fine
Truth that would not show
A world that does not know
Wishes that don’t come true
The souls I peak into
Whatever way I seek
Love alone is beyond weak
Laws that are not to breach
A place you cannot reach
The bland infinity where I am caught
The eternal struggle which comes to naught