I wouldn’t call myself a seasoned writer by any means, but after completing three books, I feel like I’m getting to know the writing process pretty well.
Let me just start by saying that writing is nothing like what I first imagined it would be.
I once thought of writing as a fairy-tale type job where ideas magically come to you, you write them down–and voila, you have a finished book! I imagined myself writing in coffee shops or while seated in front of a picturesque window view. I imagined writing one book, selling it, and automatically becoming the next big thing. Don’t we all?
But alas, it is not so simple. The truth is that writing a book is hard. Damn hard. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. But I’ve always loved a challenge, and it’s truly what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I keep on plugging away.
With that said, I thought I’d share 10 truths I’ve learned about the writing process over the years:
1.) Rough drafts don’t always suck, but they are never great. Trust me on this. You need to revise.
2.) Sometimes, the writing really does flow out of you (like maybe 20% of the time, in my case), but other times, it’s really freakin’ hard. This doesn’t mean you aren’t meant to be a writer. Writing is hard for everyone.
3.) You will likely spend more time revising than actually writing the first draft. I know, this sounds pretty awful to someone who may still be working on their first book, but this has been my experience. However there is a silver lining: I’ve also learned that revising is where the magic happens.
4.) You will have trouble going to sleep some nights because you’re thinking about something you want to add/ change/ write in your book. You will also wake up in the middle of the night or at five a.m. with this same problem.
5.) First chapters are extremely important. It’s kind of like that saying–you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. This is also true with your first chapter. It will give readers/ agents/ publishers an impression of your overall book. Your book might be great, but if your first chapter is not, they won’t get to the rest of it. Cold. Hard. Fact.
6.) Everyone will have an opinion about your writing. It’s important to listen to them (in most instances), but it’s also important to remember that yours is the opinion that matters most.
7.) You will love your book. Then you will hate it. Then you will love it again, and so on, and so on. I’ve come to the conclusion that writing a book is a lot like marriage. It ain’t always rosy, folks.
8.) It doesn’t matter how many times you read over your finished book, you will still find minor mistakes. For instance, I just used a text-to-voice app to listen to THE TRAVELER (my first book), and caught a number of small mistakes (like ‘his’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘he’ instead of ‘the’). This was at least the 100th time I’ve been through this book (no joke!)
9.) No matter how well you know your story, you will likely stumble and stutter all over the place when someone asks the inevitable, “So what’s your book about?”
10.) You will probably daydream about ‘making it big’ with your book. I know I did. I still do. But the truth is that you have to put in the work. Let’s face it, we aren’t all Stephenie Myer and have a dream about Edward and Bella lying in a meadow and then get up the next morning and start writing our bestseller.
But that certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.