Saturday, November 24, 2012

you want to write a book?

I can't even begin to tell you how many emails I get from various people who tell me that they want to write a book. (this also happens in person A LOT. and I do mean, a.lot.) They all ask me the same questions... do I have any advice for them? What should they do? How should they begin? etc, etc.

I honestly NEVER know what to say. Basically, the only thing that comes to my mind is- sit your ass down and start. I don't know what to say beyond that. Writing isn't necessarily something that you plan from start to finish like a meeting with bullet points (although maybe for some writers it is). Things start to evolve as you write... characters take on their own personalities and want to do their own things... where you thought your story was headed may completely change direction. You have to be flexible. You have to be willing to deviate from your plan. You have to let your story grow branches, sprout leaves, become this beautiful tree with roots and depth and strength that you didn't anticipate or plan for.

Writing a book is hard work. It's not easy. It's freaking torture at times. You will want to rip all your hair out. You'll be so in love with your story and your characters one minute, and think it's the most boring, piece of shit story you've ever read the next. There will be times that you'll feel like if you have to read one more word of your story ever again, you will throw your laptop off a bridge. You'll get stuck. You'll have writer's block. You'll get frustrated. You'll be on the most beautiful, flowing roll ever and then something will happen to interrupt you. And no matter how hard you try to get that groove back once the distraction is over, you won't be able to. To write a story, any story, becomes a very personal journey. And that personal journey suddenly becomes extremely public when you hit the publish button.

I know that it seems like everyone and their mother f'n dog is writing a book these days. And they're hitting best seller lists and getting publishing deals, etc. And so I know that there are some of you who want to cash in on that. You think that it's a get rich quick scheme. I'll write a book and then i'll be rolling in the dough! If that's you, please do us all a favor and don't bother. I'm not kidding. Trust me when I tell you that writing and self publishing is NOT a shortcut to fame and fortune. If you want to get rich quick then play the lottery. There is nothing quick about self publishing. And more than likely, you will not get "rich" doing it. At least not right off the bat. You'll be lucky if you make enough money to cover your editor and cover designer.

I started writing because I had a story that wouldn't leave my head. As my time working for someone else neared its end, that story called to me louder and LOUDER. It was all I could think about until I started writing it. And at the time, I honestly thought I just had this one story to tell. And I used to joke around and say, "who the hell just writes ONE book??" But I wrote anyway- because it called to me. And once I started writing that book, it was like I opened this floodgate of creativity within me. Suddenly, I had a whole bunch of ideas for stories I wanted to write! And I feel blessed to have found something I truly enjoy doing. But I followed my heart (NOT dollar signs). And it's led me here.

I think the best advice that I can give to anyone considering writing a book is:
Don't write for the wrong reasons. You should want to write a book because you have a story, or an idea that won't let you go. You feel passionate about the story you want to tell. You're driven to write. Writing feels like a part of extension of who you are.

And if that sounds like you, then I say go for it! Write that book! And good luck!

But if you're one of those people who wants to write for all the wrong reasons, I suggest you look elsewhere. People will see through your intentions.

Being an author is about trudging through the hard times. Writing when you don't think you can write anymore. Pushing through the roadblocks in your story because you're determined to find an outcome. And writing new stories when you've just finished your last one.

We don't write for the money. We write because we're passionate about the stories we tell and we want to connect with people through our words. We love what we do, even when it's frustrating, hard and tear inducing.

We don't write simply because we can.
We write because we simply can't imagine NOT writing.


1 comment:

Jason, as himself said...

Hi Jennster! Long time no see. People tell me sometimes that I should write a book. I do have quite a story to tell, or maybe it is two stories that run parallel to each other. Anyway, I'm afraid I would run out of steam or (more likely) it would never get published.