Something I have wanted to do since university is write a book. I’ve written many essays, film scripts and jumbled emotional essays to ex-boyfriends and friends alike, but never actually spent time writing something for me and me alone . I blog on a weekly basis which is a step closer to writing my first book and it has been a really useful tool in deciding what type of person I am, as well as giving me the confidence to let other people read my inner thoughts and ideas.
Something else blogging has given me is the confidence that it is okay that I am dyslexic and have a different writing style to any other blogger out there. In person I am much more literate than I come across on paper and that is something I’ve struggled with since being a child. Most of the time at school I was considered dumb and put into the special needs classes at school and often left to sit in a classroom where once a teacher genuinely said to us ‘well none of you will achieve anything, you may as well watch a movie’. I was quite disgusted by that and it wasn’t the last time I was spoken too in such a way at school having another teacher tell me I would never amount to more than getting pregnant at 16 and spending my life as a single mum.
So, because there are people out there in the world teaching children that it is okay to have no ambition or think it is A) a bad thing to have a child at 16 and be a single mother and B) something that stops you from having a personal future I decided that, you now what… I am going to write myself a book even if takes me twenty years just to prove to everyone that no matter where you’re from, what your background is or what you’re told by a teacher or even complete stranger – you choose your own path in life and can make of it what you will.
So I have come up with my own process of how to start writing a book and thought I would share it with you all incase you were stuck in a similar limbo and unsure of where to begin.
Decide what the book is going to be about
Something I learnt at university when studying script writing is that you should be able to explain the premise of your story in as few words as possible but still get the whole feel for it across to the reader. For example: ‘girl meets boy, girl falls in love boy disappears’. Even though the sentence is under ten words it still tells you the story and gives you an insight. In short, this is called the tag line for the story – something often used in script writing.
After you have written your tag line write a short but detailed outline of everyone you want to include in your book. This applies to whatever style of writing be it fiction or non-fiction. Cookery book or information book. It has to be logical and make sense. ideally… just make sure you cover all bases if (like me) you have a hundred and one ideas floating about in your head.
After that you need to decide the structure of the book, where the beginning middle and end will start and finish. For me the start of the book should set the scene, tell the reader what it is about and introduce characters / key ingredients or an outline of information that they can expect to find as they read on. The middle of the story is the most important part to me, it is the exciting part where everything happens and the part the reader will focus on the most. Then there is the ending. Don’t wrap it up quickly and don’t drag it out. The ending needs to make sense and be decent or it will irritate the reader. If you’re writing a cookery book and don’t have a list of food content at the back then it will be frustrating for the reader. If you’re a fiction writer and don’t have a decent ending you may want to spend more time writing it.
Write something every day
J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter whilst studying to be a teacher alongside being a single mother with a little baby daughter. She is now an international icon with a OBE and millions of pounds to her name… So writing just a little everyday isn’t hard, even if it’s only a paragraph!
Have a set time to work on your book every day
Consistency makes creativity easier. You need a daily deadline to do your work — that’s how you’ll finish writing a book. Feel free to take a day off, if you want, but schedule that ahead of time. Never let a deadline pass; don’t let yourself off the hook so easily. Setting a daily deadline and regular writing time will ensure that you don’t have to think about when you will write. When it’s time to write, it’s time to write.
Write somewhere special and tranquil
I suggest writing in a coffee shop, your office a garden or even on the sofa. I do a lot of my writing on my bed or sofa even though I have a perfectly good table and chairs in my flat. It just makes me feel more comfortable and it’s somewhere I feel at ease so I can just write and not have to feel like I am back at school. In the summer I like to take my laptop to my parents house and write in the garden or the front dining room where I can be somewhere warm and inspiring.
How many words are you planning on doing?
A lot of people would suggest you come up with a set word count for your story. I actually disagree with this. Just write! Don’t limit your creativity. You can go back and chop out bits you don’t like, but never delete them. Keep them saved in a doc. somewhere on your computer as they may come in handy in another story.
Just for reference, a standard book is about 50,000 (ish) words, something such as The Girl On The Train is about 104,000 words. So I always think as long as my story is exciting to me and says everything I want it to say then its long enough. DO NOT add in extra sections to fill it out as it will be (I think) terrible.
Let your friends / family read it
When you’re finished I suggest you let a few friends or family members read it to see what they think. You don’t have to tell them you wrote it, just their opinion… Many are happy to give it as people like to feel important and part of something. Another good thing about this is, they will want to give you feedback and critique your work so let them. It can be a real help. Remember, it’s best to write a book for yourself than others, unless it’s a child or very close loved one. Just that way, the story can mean something special and in many ways help you actually set the scene much better.
Finish the book
You have now finished the book. Fantastic! Decide what you want to do with it, do you want to publish it online or in a hard copy format? Do you want it turned into a screenplay…? What’s your desire for your story. You choose! This is not always easy and you need to expect people will say no to you as you’re (in their world) a nobody. So the best thing to do is try to be true to yourself and believe in your ability to write and create stories.