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Sit Down and Write the Dang Book!

Writing can be a solitary action. You can go to conferences (Pike’s Peak’s Conference is coming up!), join a critique group, get invited to book release parties. They are all fun. However, your job as a writer is to plant your butt in a seat and put words on the screen. For a lot of people, this can be very hard.

Today’s blog on historical fiction won’t have a lot of suggestions on how to put words on your screen. There is no secret to writing. If you say you are a writer, then you’re going to have to sit down and write.

There is a fallacy that writing requires inspiration at every turn.

There is a fallacy that writing requires lots and lots of talent.

There is a fallacy that writing requires an unburdened mind so you can concentrate.

 

None of these things are true.

All you need to write a book is a kernel of an idea and the intestinal fortitude to write it. Everything else you can learn along the way.

Is it going to be hard? Yes.

Will you get frustrated? Absolutely.

Will you discover knew deficiencies in your writing that you’ll have to correct? Count on it.

Will you probably poor blood, sweat and tears into a story you realize isn’t very good? Uh huh.

But that’s the process isn’t it? You have to go through this journey yourself in order to find the story that’s inside you. The only way to do it is to do it.

Enough badgering. Here is what helps me.

Because I use Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat outline, I plot out every scene I’m going to write for a novel. Those outlines show an emotional high, an emotional low, and a conflict. (Remember, every scene you write must have some sort of conflict in it.) Because I have these tools, (or crutches, depending on your point of view,) I can write out a scene. Then I can write another one. And another one. Eventually I have a book because I’ve outlined all my scenes.

I may decide to change something while I’m writing it, or I can go back and re-write. (more on that later) But at least I have something on the page.

 

Here’s another hint. Writing is a muscle, so use it every day.

If you can’t do this, I understand. You’ve got a life. Maybe you’re a full time student. Maybe you run a business. Maybe you’re fighting a disease like Cancer. I get it. But let me say this.

The world needs your story.  Make your story a priority in your life. Carve out time, if only twenty minutes a day, and write.

Over a month, a season, or a year, you will write your novel. All you have to do is create a habit of writing. If you do that, over time, eventually you’ll have a completed manuscript. (Which is more than most writers have!)

So how do you do that?

It’s like brushing your teeth. You set a time of day and write. You make a writing place where you are in the habit of writing. The time is up to you. 4:30 in the morning or 10:00 at night. Whatever helps you.  As for the place, it can be your kitchen table. It can be in your moved out kids converted bedroom. It can be in the tool shed. I once knew a college professor who had to write a book, so he would go to a set number of coffee shops and rotate. The time and place are up to you, it’s the habit that’s important.

 

Another hint: Flex your muscles by upping your daily word count.

When I first started writing I could barely write 1,000 words a day. It was exhausting. This was in 2013, the first time I participate in NaNoWriMo. That first week was killer! I knew I had to get to 1667 words a day, but I was exhausted! Things changed week 2.

By the end of the second week I was writing about 1700 words a day.

By the end of the third week I was averaging 2100 words a day.

By the end of the fourth week I was averaging 2300 words a day.

Now when I write, I get mental fatigue at about 3000 words, on average. So my advice to you is push yourself. Where ever you’re at when it comes to word volume. Tell yourself you will write 250 more words today than you usually write. If you average 500 words, try to write 750. If you write 2300, write 2550. Average that out for the week. Then, next week try to write 250 more words. I promise you that your daily word totals will go up.

 

Final hint: Write what you wanna write first.

Fellow writer and author James Vincett gets a scene in his mind. It’s like an itch he can’t reach. So he’ll put that scene down on paper. Then, he’ll get another scene in his head and write that one down, too. He’s written the fun stuff, first.

Once that is written, he’ll outline and write all the stuff that comes in between. For James, it’s an intellectual exercise in trying to connect two scenes together in a coherent and cogent way. It works for him.

As for me, like I wrote above, I outline all my scenes before I write. There are some I dread writing and others I really look forward to. I make myself write the mundane stuff first. I then reward myself by writing the cool stuff I wanted to write all along! Try it. Maybe it will work for you.

I am sorry I wasn’t more helpful. I’m sorry that all I could do is come up with some suggestions to help you stay motivated. However, this is where your metal is tested. Are you really a writer? If so, then write. Write every day, if you can. Get some progress under your belt. Even if you only write a page a day, that is better than no pages at all. Remember, the worst page written is better than the perfect book in your head.

 

Follow Jason on Twitter @evans_writer

Like his Facebook Author Page at Jason Henry


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