I’m far from an expert and continue to learn as I go along. Therefore, I’m hoping this will become a community in which we share ideas. What this is NOT, is an expert imparting some magic formula for becoming a best selling author. My book has eight reviews on Amazon, and I’ve spent more money on my book than I’ve made at this point (I’m confident that with some hard work and perseverance, that will change). While I’m not a best-selling author (yet), I have written and published a book and do have at least some experience. With all that said, if you’re looking for professional advice from a New York Times best-seller who has it all figured out, you can stop reading now. If you’re interested in writing and publishing a book, and are interested in hearing the experiences of someone who’s done it and is striving to do it better, this series is for you. Let’s get it started.
1. Set a Daily Word Count (WC) Quota: A typical novel is anywhere between 50,000 and 80,000 words (writers focus on word count, not pages count). To finish Home Sick (which started as a short story btw), I gave myself a daily quota of 2,000 words. Some days, 2,000 words seemed impossible, inciting the desire to rip my hair out-- strand by strand. Other days, I was shocked as the words poured onto the page. No matter how I was feeling, I had a quota to fulfill and tried my best to stick with it. I’m currently writing the screenplay for Home Sick. I have a full-time job. 2,000 words a day isn't realistic for me right now. Therefore, my daily WC quota for this project is 500. Writing 500 words a day is my sweet spot. It's not overwhelming but also keeps the project progressing at a comfortable pace. I keep a simple writing log with the date, WC start, WC end, and WC total. Simple. Sometimes, I write a prayer before I begin and notes about my writing session when I'm done. If writing 500 words doesn't work for you, start even smaller at 100 words a day. I need to mention that it's very important to begin each session by writing. DO NOT re-read and edit what you've already written. This is tempting and detrimental to the process. I'll devote an entire post to this topic in the future.
2. Stop Waiting for the Perfect Conditions. “If I didn’t have this demanding full-time job, I’d have the time to write.” “If I only had a home office, then I could get focused enough to write.” “I need to be inspired.” “If I had a sitter for my kids...” I could go on and on, and I’m sure you could add a hundred more. Here’s the point: Stop waiting for the perfect time, conditions, or place to write because they will almost never materialize. Conditions could always be better. Whether you are in the library, sitting at your kitchen table, writing during your lunch break at work, or stealing time while your kids are watching their favorite television show, don’t let your conditions prevent you from writing your masterpiece.
3. Use Writing Prompts: Writing prompts are a great way to get in the habit of writing on a daily basis. They can also serve to inspire and generate new ideas. There are pieces I never would have written without the use of writing prompts. There are prompts all over the internet. We're going to start using them today. I pulled this prompt from 365 Days of Writing Prompts by The New York Post.
Grab your writing log. WC quota: 100. WC start: 0 WC end/total: ____. Sit comfortably in your imperfect setting and get writing. If you’re feeling brave, post the response to the prompt in the comments section below; I'd love to read them. Happy writing! Here’s the prompt: Write a six-word story* about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it.
*Six-word stories tell a story in exactly six words--no more, no less. Therefore, your first sentence should be exactly six words.
Here’s my response:
It’s the first day of auditions. I take the last empty chair at the long table in front of the room. I’m not sure who’s more nervous, me or the young woman waiting to read. I sold my screenplay, with a few conditions. I was open to some changes to the script, but I had to be involved in casting the actress who would play Gia. The assistant has already given the young woman her lines. I say a silent prayer, thanking God for answering a prayer I prayed in the recent past. I nod,smile, and hold back tears as the actress reads my lines.
WC quota: 100 words
WC Start: 0
WC End: 107
Total Words Written: 107
Notes: Success! Wrote 7 words over my quota. Feeling inspired by writing about a successful future in which my dreams have come to fruition. Save for use in memoir or expand upon when feeling doubtful about reality of a career in writing.