Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Get Organized and Start Writing

It's the second week of January and you are sitting there this morning wishing you could get to writing your nonfiction book. Here are some lessons I have learned from working with writers for three decades:

  • First, remember that fiction is made up, non-fiction is "not made up". Interestingly, 70% of first-time authors are not able to identify which is which!
  • Do give your project a working title. Don't put pressure on yourself to create the perfect title. Your working title is a destination - make it precise enough to give you a path to reach it and if something doesn't get you to that destination, don't put it in your book.
  • Do set aside a place for your writing.
  • Do set aside time for writing. Tell yourself  "I will write two paragraphs today," and then do it. (Notice I didn't say "I will write two perfect paragraphs today," nor did I say "I will write a chapter."
  • Do write out a table of contents on index cards with suggested points bulleted underneath.(Hint: don't call it an outline.) I like index cards because you can rearrange their order. Don't expect to have your table of contents complete in one sitting -- it's a dynamic and fluid guide at this point.
  • Do buy a three-ring binder and a bunch of plastic pockets and start gathering photos or other items you want to include or write about in your book.
  • Do write the low-hanging fruit stories first ... and in the words of Anne Lamott, "Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft."
  • Don't try to write the first paragraph or the last line first. 
  • Do be yourself in your writing -- One of each Tolstoy, Hemingway or Dr. Seuss is enough
  • Do take a class on writing -- any and all types of writing classes. If you were going to try yoga, you would go to a class to learn and perfect your technique. Works the same for your writing.
  • Do read a book in your genre. 
Today is day one.  Two paragraphs.  Go.

1 comment:

  1. Damn straight! Please blog more than once a week...I'm getting inspired here and I don't want to stop! What's next? What's next?


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