Like many people, you've already envisioned what would happen if you wrote a book. The day finally arrives, and the scene unfolds in one of two ways.
- The box holding your first (or fourth) novel sits next to your writing space. You slice through the cardboard quickly, anxious to hold your book.
- Or, you upload your ebook to a digital publishing site, waiting nervously for the first reader to buy a copy.
Either way, you've put an enormous amount of yourself into the final product. Getting there wasn't always easy, but congratulations are in order. You're part of the three percent of the population who saw the process through.
The desire to become an author is overwhelming: 80% of the population in America would like to publish a book. The writing industry is growing at a rate of 4% annually, which is on par with other employment. Two of every three writers are self-employed, and writing is a career many have contemplated.
While people dream of the millions they'll rake in from publishing a bestseller, many authors average $60,000 yearly. Lots of hurdles stand in the way of moving a story from an idea to a finished product and marketing it, but one of the hardest to overcome is the writing itself.
As Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, "After all, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it."
It would be best if you had a book coach when any of the steps in your journey -- from ideas to writing and editing to marketing -- become overwhelming.
You Have an Idea, Now What?
Inventors are no strangers to the creative process. The trick is to know when to grab an idea and run with it, and Thomas Edison recognized that "the value of an idea lies in the using of it."
Having many ideas makes it difficult to choose the best one, or the list of book topics you've thought about reads like an old t-shirt: been there, done that.
Brainstorming can take many forms, including:
- Mindmapping. A favorite for visual thinkers, map mapping involves creating a picture journey of your main idea and branching it into subplots. Even a temporary title can serve as your main topic. You can create unlimited side stories with this technique as you draw out your storyline or use a software app to help.
- Listing. The simple act of jotting down a list is a low-risk brainstorming strategy. There is no pressure to write literary masterpiece phrases. You merely log your ideas. Some won't be worth saving, but others will be brilliant, and you'll want to see where they lead.
- Freewriting. When an exciting idea bubbles to the surface in your mind, it's time to capture it. Write (or type) it at the top of your page, set a timer for 20 minutes, and GO! Write everything that comes to mind, regardless of how crazy, silly, or even off-topic it might seem. The goal is to commit your thoughts to paper as quickly as possible.
A few writers need a book coach who can get them through the initial brainstorming stage with other strategies to help them percolate ideas.
And once you've got an idea that excites you, you're ready to roll!
Getting the Word on the Page
It's time to get that story or content on the page. You might use your mindmap as a guide for beginning your book-writing journey or prefer to work from an outline.
The important thing is that you begin with a goal in mind. Tell yourself that you'll write one chapter daily or, like Stephen King, commit to getting 3,000 words on the page and leave the rest of the day for other things -- like your day job or family. As a rule of thumb, it takes about an hour to write 600 words, so you’ve got to make it happen.
Writing contests like NaNoWriMo, which sets a goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, have helped many aspiring writers meet their goals in a short time. You need only begin with the first sentence.
The Winnie the Pooh author, A.A. Milne, would tell you that you've got this: "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
Persistence Is Everything
However, believing you can write a book isn't the same as doing it.
Even NaNoWriMo won't help the procrastinator who suddenly discovers ABW: Anything But Writing. These are the people who decide that it's suddenly time to sort all the pictures on their phones or catch up on Wordle. Every distraction, no matter how insignificant, becomes worthy of investigation.
Many writers give up during this stage of the process. Other demands require their attention, keeping to a writing schedule becomes challenging, and doubt creeps between the written lines.
Book coaches help writers experiencing self-doubt. Together the caoch and writer identifies negative gremlins and strategize ways to put those naysayer voices to constructive work. The coach holds the writer accountable because there's a book in progress, and it must be completed. After all, "Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence" (Ovid).
Being persistent in the pursuit of your goal will place you in the three-percent group of writers who finish their books.
Different Ways Writers Reach Out
Coach Les Brown says, "Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong."
It's natural for writers to turn to books for writing advice. These six books have a permanent place of honor within arm's reach of my desk:
- Elements of Style, Strunk & White
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
- Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius within You, Ray Bradbury
- Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
- Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
- On Writing Well, by William Zinsser
You may have some favorites of your own. It's essential to remember that no matter how solitary writing may seem, others have gone before you, and they're willing to share advice about the adventure you've undertaken.
Alternatively, your local library may offer writer's groups, or you could meet with friends to talk about your writing progress and find answers to your questions.
There are large organizations for every genre imaginable, like romance, sci-fi, mystery, western, short story, young adult, poetry, and more. Join the professional group, attend conferences, and talk to the other writers.
The Power Has Always Been Yours
Taking your ideas from inception to publication can be a manageable undertaking. There are strategies to move you confidently past each milestone to the end.
You might know exactly where you're headed and how to get there, or you might want some help along the way.
When do you need a book coach? Let's chat a bit.
If you learn that you don't want to commit the energy and time to writing a book, that's okay. You can still get your ideas to your audience by hiring a ghost writer.
As any good book coach would tell you, "You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself" (Glenda, the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz).
Your book coach helps you discover what's within and bring it to life.