Many people find just the idea of writing a book frightening. I’ve heard it described as putting out to sea in a rowing boat, hoping you’ll eventually reach land, but aware of the dangers of storms and disasters on the journey.
I don’t think of it that way. If I had to make a comparison, it would be like an artist standing in front of a huge, blank canvas. He has a palette of wonderful colors that he can combine to make new and exciting shades. He can paint with dashing, bold swathes or delicate strokes. He can do anything he wants with the blank canvas, and his mind is filled with exciting possibilities. So it is with starting a book, particularly a novel.
If you have a burning desire to write a book, don’t discourage yourself by believing “I’m too ordinary.” No, you are extraordinary and unique. You are the only person who can write the book inside you , because – even if it’s fiction -it is still made out of your beliefs, your prejudices, the jokes you laughed at, the songs you sang. You can create characters from the essence of people you loved or hated, admired or lost, but still yearn for. However to go the distance and write a complete book, you need an almost demonic compulsiveness. There is no guarantee that it will ever be published, but the New York Times Book Review estimates that first novels have a one in ten chance. It’s a highly competitive field, but you may be just the one.
Writing a novel differs from a short story, which usually focuses on one incident and its remifications. In the novel, with its 60,000 plus word length, you have the scope for a much more complex plot. You can span many decades or cover just 18 days as Tom Clancy did in “The Hunt for Red October.” My novel “The Pomegranate Pendant” covered almost a century in Jerusalem; my novel “Esther” close to 40 years. You get a rush of power to know that you can put any words or philosophy you wish into your characters’ mouths, any thought in their minds.
The act of writing a book need not take years. None of my 14 books took me more than six months to complete, some much less, even when I had a full-time job. Aim for a minimum of 3 pages a day. With that quota, in just 90 days you will have the first draft of an average-sized book.
Remember only 10% is inspiration, the other 90% is perspiration! Sit down. Don’t doodle. Don’t even go to the bathroom during writing time unless kidney stones would result. Don’t take phone calls. Go into a trance in which your characters come to life. They’ll take over and tell you what they want to say and do. Keep the rhythm of work going until you’ve completed your word quota. Then each day will be a triumph.
You will have rejections – all writers do, even famous ones. Just re-submit until someone likes it. If it’s finally published, and you hold a copy in your hands, the thrill is like giving birth. You have created this miracle, and readers will be able to share your eyes. And the long lonely effort (for writing is a lonely occupation) is well-rewarded.
Thomas Wolfe wrote: “If a man has talent and cannot use it, he has failed. If he has talent and only uses half of it, he has failed. If he has a talent and learns to use the whole of it, he has succeeded and won a satisfaction and a triumph few men ever know.”
Happy writing! I am here to help with any of your writing problems – contact me at email@example.com
My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available direct from me at discount.