I have a banner hanging above my desk that says, “Anything is Possible.”
This year, I proved it. I wrote a book.* Specifically, a novel set in England in the 1950s. It is a whimsical Christmas tale about a little boy with complicated familial relationships called, Magnus the Magnificent.
Writing a book has been on my bucket list for many, many years and I usually found many, many reasons (ahem, excuses) not to do it. I was sick, or busy, or in school, or just plain lazy. I am proud to say that this year I stopped making excuses, and I did it.
And if I can do it, you can too.
If writing a book has always been on your bucket list, then I want to encourage you to take the steps to make it happen. Carpe Diem… Seize the day!
Here are seven things I learned while writing my book:
1. Trust the process.
I’m not going to lie. There are days when nothing will happen. There will be days that you won’t feel like it. There will be days that you spend five hours on Facebook and you don’t write a single word. There will also be days that you sit down to write, and the creativity will ooze out of you, and it will feel like pure magic.
“Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Break it down.
Writing a book may seem daunting or unachievable, but it is 100% doable if you break it into small, manageable chunks. You may want to set small goals like writing the first chapter, or writing an outline to better understand the structure of your story. I found it helpful to map out my story from start to finish. Just like with real maps, if you know where you’re going, it is much easier to get there.
3. Get inspired.
Figure out what motivates you. I found it incredibly helpful to be a part of a writing group where we encouraged each other and gave honest, constructive feedback. If you would like to learn more about the practice of writing, there are online and in-person creative writing classes all over the world. You could also join a meet-up for writers or start your own group.
If you want to understand and appreciate the connection that is possible with really great literature, read a book. A good book will affect you, excite you, and motivate you; a great book will make you pick up a pen and write.
“Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” – Annie Proulx
5. Make time for yourself.
There are 52 weeks in a year. If you don’t write one week, try to find time to write the following week. If you don’t write the following week, don’t sweat it. Do not prioritize writing at the expense of all other areas of your life — it will suck the joy out of the experience. Take care of yourself. Visit with friends. Eat right. Exercise. Breathe. Write a little. You’ve got this.
6. Keep it up.
I will not say it’s easy. It’s definitely not easy. There were days when my self-doubt reared its ugly head, and I considered quitting. I was putting in huge amounts of time and energy, and I wondered if anyone would even bother to read my book. And then I realized, I wasn’t writing the book for anyone else, I was writing it for me.
7. Celebrate your successes.
You finished your first chapter? Yay! You finished the first paragraph? Hurray! You wrote down the title? Yes! You bought a notebook to write down all of your ideas? Congratulations! These are all great steps toward achieving your goal, and you should be proud of yourself. You may want to set milestones, and attach specific rewards. When I finished my book, I said I would book a trip to Hawaii. Hawaii, here I come.
We all have a story to tell, and I hope that this is the year that you will get to share yours.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Magnus the Magnificent by Kimberly Manky
*Author’s note: I am self-publishing my novel through Create Space, an on-demand publishing company that helps you design, print and distribute your book. This easy-to-use service also helps track sales, royalties, distribution channels, and makes your book available to millions of readers on Amazon.
Do you dream of writing a book? What’s holding you back from starting?
Images via Monica Friese