Just about every month, I get an email from someone who wants to write a book. Usually, the emailer has about twenty questions…most of them are about how to get published.
I try to back the truck up (beep, beep, beep).
First, before editing and submitting and rejection…First. You. Have. To. Write. A. Book.
After that come the questions about how To. Write. A. Book.
Is there a “how to” guide?
Where can I get the “Write A Novel For Dummies”?
Where do I start? How long will it take? HOW DO I DO IT?????
Again. Let’s back the truck up. (beep, beep, beep)
First, before fretting over how and where and when and why to start To. Write. A. Book. First. You need to know what you like to read.
This is where librarian Susie pushes up her glasses, tightens her bun, shushes you, and tells you to put that nose in a book.
Move it, move it, move it. (to be read in my best drill sergeant voice)
Before I was a writer, I was a reader. Writers must must MUST be readers first. Can I say it again? If one wants to write, one absolutely must be a reader.
Everything you can get your hands on.
The best writers I know spend as much time reading as they do writing. The best writers I know learn more from reading than anything else. The best writers I know learn from other writers.
People who never move beyond “I want to write a book” are those who, sadly, don’t understand how essential it is to read. It hurts my soul when someone says, “I want to write a book…but I don’t read…I don’t like to read.”
Yowch! That’s like telling an Olympic 100 meter sprinter that you want to compete, but you aren’t going to train…that you don’t even like to run.
It just doesn’t work that way. Sorry.
I’m not trying to scare you, but writing is a lot, a lot, a lot of work. And a massive part of that work is…you got it…reading.
I stayed up far too late last night so that I could finish Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt. It is beautiful. It is raw and subtle and moving. I cried. A. Lot. I laughed just as much. I gasped at the luxurious prose somehow delivered in the voice of a 14 year old boy. Often, while reading, I paused and thought, “Now, this is how a novel is written. This is how it’s done.”
Yes. Read how-to books about writing. Go to conferences (meet other writers!). Join a critique group if you’d like. Those are good things.
Then, after you’ve done some reading, get in a chair and start writing. It doesn’t have to be good. It can be junk. All first drafts are. But sit and click.
Then read some more.
And repeat, repeat, repeat.
That’s how you write a book.
Tell me, what books have you read that inspired you? Do you want to write a book? What’s holding you back? What are you reading these days?