There are people far more qualified than I to discuss the craft of writing, so I thought I'd share my experience of how I came to write my book, The Bachelor Farmers. Maybe you'll find something new here whether you've already written a book or are in the process.
* Think of Yourself as a Writer
I've been writing my whole life: journals, articles, even a children's book. I loved to write, but it took a shift in how I viewed myself to become an author. The first step was to begin thinking of myself as a writer. I can still feel my hesitation when someone asked me what I did, and for the first time, I said: "I'm a writer." After awhile I grew comfortable with this image, and I began to own that I really was a writer. This takes time, so be patient, but when people ask you what you do, say: "I'm a writer."
* Create a Sacred Space
About the time I was shifting my thinking, I carved out a small space in the house that was mine alone. I found privacy here and set up my desk and my computer, lit a candle. You get the idea. This was a second important step. You're a writer. You need a sacred space.
* Write Everyday
Over the years, I've studied literature and writing and taken classes and workshops on the craft of storytelling. I love romantic comedies, so I wanted to write a Chick-lit book. I clicked onto the websites of every writer I could find and read about their process. Many writers have sections on their websites for new writers and I found several to be helpful. My favorite was a Romance author named Leanne Banks who listed affirmations for writers which I wrote down and pasted everywhere. I was still so fragile, I needed them to keep myself going.
* Jump Start With a Writing Class
Before I dug in, I refreshed with a ten week on-line fiction class with The Gotham Writers Workshop. Taking the class got me used to writing every day as well as managing my time. Anonymously, I interacted with other writers at my level which allowed me to open up with less fear. The group hailed from several states, and friendships formed quickly as we critiqued each other's work. Our instructor was a published author, accessible and willing to share. Assignments focused on craft and theory, but the best part was going to my desk every day and just writing!
* Write a Messy First Draft
When the class ended, I had a notebook filled with practical treasures that I still refer to. I also had the beginnings of several short stories that I would come to develop later. These pieces represented assignments that had been well received in class. I didn't know it at the time, but several of these stories would later become my books.
It was during this period that I wrote my Chick-lit first draft. I didn't worry about grammar, punctuation, chapters, or even sentence structure. I just got the story down on paper. It was awful and lousy and riddled with flaws, but it had a beginning, a middle and an end. It wasn't perfect, but I now knew that I could complete something big.
Then came the lesson that every writer has to learn: the real work is in the rewrites. This is where things come together, the mess is cleaned up and the book is molded. Notice I said, "rewrites" with an "s!" (You'll be doing dozens, so get ready.)
When I thought the book was done, I sent out query letters. Hello, rejection! (By the way, the biggest sin of first time writers is sending work out too soon) Deflated, but not dejected, I packed up my manuscript and attended a couple of additional workshops. My book needed work, but I didn't feel I had the skills to fix it, so I shoved it into my desk. Switching genres, I dug out the top pieces from my class work and began to expand them into short stories.
* Try a Short Story First
As it turned out, I never did publish my Chick-lit book. I will go back to it someday. I still love it. It's my first baby. The short stories I found, were more manageable than a novel and a better way to sharpen my skills. It was much wasier to hand someone a short story to read than to drop a novel in their lap. In fact, this is how I found my editor. She read my first short story and loved it. The feedback came, and I learned.
* Find an Editor
I can't stress enough, the importance of this! Find someone you can work with: a professional, or a friend who has some experience with editing. It could be someone you hire or someone you meet in a workshop, but you must find an editor who believes in your work. Be careful who you show your work to. You want someone who is gentle and honest and will never put you down no matter how bad your writing is. This person will help you shape the story and make sure everything is grammatically correct. You'll know when you've found him/her. My editor, a dear friend and a teacher by profession, gave me a copy of Anne Lamott's book, Bird by Bird, for the days I need a pick up. Lamott's biggest fear was that she would die before she got to edit a first draft and someone would see it.
* Publish Your Book
Tons of options here. You can go the traditional route of searching for an agent and a publisher or do it yourself. Thanks to the huge changes in publishing today, Indie authors are becoming more mainstream. There are thousands of Indie writers out there willing to share their experiences and help you make your dream come true. I know. I'm one of them!
Best of luck,
Please visit me at www.brendasorrels.com or on facebook at