"As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand." - Ernest Hemingway
After publishing a book, you are asked about writing a book.
Questions like; How difficult is it? How do you stay motivated? What will or could I write about? What do I do after stalling at ten thousand words?
After publishing two books, here are some tips.
1. Choose something you are interested in, passionate about and consider the credible research available to support your writing if it is non-fiction.
2. Outline your book on a page; I tend to use quarters or fifths. My first book began with five sections being Your Mindset, Technology, Relevance, Innovation and Digital. I then broke sections into a series of topics I could write about. Each section was about five to six thousand words. Upon combining them, there were thirty thousand words, and this was a book.
3. Writing is lonely, and you need to be in an almost meditative state. Music is my companion. When I hear Mac Miller or Kayne West, I think of my first book. Several Melbourne independent musical radio programs on PBS and RRR remind me of my second. I sent my favourite DJs copies of my latest book as a thank you. My only exception to music is in the silence of the middle of the night or early morning when I write about complex topics. The silence provides moments of great clarity.
4. Procrastination can lead to writer's block. If you are stuck, change your environment. I like to write in my favourite, busy coffee shop with my headphones on when not in lockdown.
5. Create a plan and not a word target. A plan will have the details of what you intend to write about rather than a weekly word target. When writing my first book, I regularly checked my word count as I was uncertain if I could write enough. It resulted in some over-elaborated or long-winded sentences to hit a word target. A good editor reduces these.
6. Research can offer visuals to break up the text, but ensure it is relevant to the point you are making. Services such as Fiverr offer graphic designers at a very reasonable cost. You will need to be patient with them, but they can produce some great visuals.
7. What type of writer will you be? This needs to sit comfortably with you and sets your tone and style. Some writers are tempted to be right; like in many self-help books. I prefer to put something out there, encouraging the reader to think about their perspective. Also, other writers want to solve something. I find these books a little superficial as the world is complex. Sure, you may have a view (I do on digital business as an example), but I try hard to avoid being "a know it all" type of writer.
8. There will be days when your fingers cannot type as quickly as your thoughts; you will wonder where those words came from when reading them back. Sometimes, it was a Saturday evening, I gave up many of them, as when the words arrived, I wrote them! I also found the conditions I created helped my writing. These included a combination of good coffee, physical activity, a siesta, fasting (apparently, it results in clarity of thought, and this goes back to when we hunted for food) and watching foreign films (here is a list of some favourites). The last is quirky, but it is an escape and somehow stimulates my creativity.
9. Share something personal; multiple editors have asked me to write more about myself and my experiences. It keeps the modern reader engaged. They will choose to continue with your book if they feel a connection to you. I was and still am uncomfortable about this, and I would encourage you to work with your editor on how best to strike a balance.
10. Your team, the people you live with, your editor, publisher and co-author (my latest book is co-authored) are critical. The challenge is you will not meet many of these until you have a manuscript. The people you live with will become your greatest champions and make you accountable. Nothing better than being asked by my nine-year-old son, "how many words did you write today? Can I see?"
11. Writing will cost you time and money. On average, probably five to ten thousand dollars if you use a non-mainstream publisher with an editing service, and an audio version is likely to be a further one to four thousand dollars. PR could be important and can be five to ten thousand, dependent on its length. My first book's PR campaign created this coverage, assisting in establishing my credentials for my advisory business. Note, this is in addition to your time, and that is why you must choose something you are interested in and passionate about. You are unlikely to recover your costs in selling books, but you might as a paid speaker if you write non-fiction.
Then there are times when something special happens that makes it worthwhile. I received the below unexpected email on a Sunday evening in August.
I snuggled down today and read the rest of your book that I started last weekend. I have to say I genuinely loved it.
I loved the way it was structured - Country, Workplace, Community and Family. I love the perspective of you as a Gen X and Michelle as a Gen Y and I loved the thought provoking questions you pose at the end of each chapter.
I feel that I learnt so much more about you too and feel grateful to know you. You are an incredible human. I didn't realise you practiced yoga….something else we have in common.
And the finale on PERMA sung to me.
Very few words can explain how it feels for someone to understand and appreciate what you wrote.