I came across an article today put out by one of the major online book publishing companies. What I read turned my stomach. Unfortunately, people believe a lot of what they read, and this article spewed out many of the most damaging myths of writing. Right off the bat, this statement greets the reader, “Writing your book will be one of the hardest things you ever do. If you’re in the middle of that process, you’re probably nodding your head.”
I understand many novice writers may find this statement to be true, but the fact is, the statement is not a “given.” In fact, writing a book is a joy, pure delight, and an amazing experience when approached in an open, creative manner. I teach a 5 week workshop (Write Your Book in 30 Days) which dispels the myth of drudgery. I’m in the middle of a book, and I am vehemently shaking my head in dissent instead of affirmation of this article’s statement. It’s one thing to state that many new writers find writing a book difficult, but quite another to definitively say the process, “will be one of the hardest things you ever do.” Writing a book does not have to be hard. Perpetuating this lie is disgusting.
The author of this article then goes on to advise: “DON’T attempt to write a book until you’ve: 1) studied the craft, 2) written and sold things shorter than a book, 3) plugged into a community of writers”
First, learning “rules” of writing does not translate into accessing the creative side of your brain. In fact, I’ve found loading a new writer down with rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, actually detracts from a novice writer’s ability to access their creative storytelling side. I agree knowing craft of writing techniques helps make an end product read well, but first draft does not need to be bogged down by limitations. If we want the same old tired writing we’ve been seeing for quite a while from many authors, then by all means, continue to channel them down this path of limitations rather than allowing their imaginations free reign in the first draft.
The second listed “DON’T” in this article is a major pet peeve of mine. The article writer wants you to write short. Write small pieces. Build your platform. “Become an expert as something…and then start thinking about that book or novel.” Sure, make it all about business. Forget about writing your best book. Forget about stepping in with confidence that your imagination and your creative nature have validity. Let’s test this all out on other people. Let’s use someone else to measure our own personal writing self-worth. Let’s boil writing down to a purely business equation. This will guarantee we see nothing fresh and exciting and different for generations to come.
No. Write your story. Write your truth. Write it will all the passion available to you. Marketing is a completely different animal, separate from the book writing process. Do not mix the two, and certainly, do not equate the two as one entity. Writing a book and marketing the book are indeed connected, but not in the first draft. Not in its creation. Not from my experience. If you write for market rather than yourself, there’s a falseness there. Write YOUR book. Period.
The third “DON’T” I partially agree with. A community of writers I feel is necessary for the long haul of the writing experience. Unfortunately, most writers groups are little more than social clubs or nit picking critique groups where the examinations by the members do nothing but antagonize the inspiration and motivation to write. Find a group of writers who produce books. Many people will say they’re writing a book. Many will talk a big game. Find those who show proof in tangible, readable books.
The article goes on to analytically lay out rigid structure on what it takes to write a book. This lie gets perpetuated by so many writers it makes me sick. Do you have a truth burning inside you that’s dying to get out? Do you have a story to tell? Do you have a passion for it? Then write it! If you’re wise, once you finish you will get beta readers to proof the manuscript, then you’ll hire a competent, professional editor. As for all this other garbage about what you must do to write a book?
Just sit down and write the damned thing! Bleed it. Puke it. Get it out of you. If you want to produce a cookie cutter book, then restrict your creativity and listen to the authors who give you rigid rules. Understand this: the “financial” success of a book is determined mostly by your marketing and topic matter, partially by happenstance, and minutely by your brilliant “craft” of writing. “Best selling” books are not necessarily “best written” books. In fact, I believe the best written books are most often overlooked because the marketing is not in place to help the books get into the public eye.
If you desire to make the writing process all about money, I must warn you – that action becomes quite unfulfilling. Write your book. Write the best book you possibly can. Write it for yourself. THEN, as you go through rewrite, edit, and into publishing, identify your market, and by all means, hire marketing help to get your book the attention it deserves. I implore you to not listen to people who reduce book writing to analytics and business. Book writing is a creative endeavor. Please keep true to that.