by Hayley Doyle
Everybody has a book in them.
Many have sincere hopes to get that book written one day.
Do you really believe that one day will come?
You see, the truth is, that day has already arrived. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed it. That day just so happens to be today. Surprised? Take a moment. Then grab your notebook and let’s get started.
What’s that? You can’t start today?
Hmm. Now, here is where the problem lies.
If you don’t start it today, you never will. There is a skewed perception of the life of an author, thanks to literature itself, and of course, movies and TV shows. The image is pretty clear; the bohemian, sitting in a coffee shop, perhaps a Parisian cafe, pondering their thoughts whilst penning their future bestseller. Maybe you think that writing will come at a time in your life when you’re financially secure and can take a sabbatical. Or you might be waiting until your kids get older and you can fill your empty nest with words, sentences and stories.
As a published author myself, I can tell you that if I hadn’t decided to write my books ‘today’, I would never have written them. I won’t bore you with all the craziness that happens around my novel writing; we all have chaotic lives, and mine is no more or less stressful than yours, I’m sure. But listen; nobody is going to write that book other than you. So why not just get it done? Here’s how you can get started… today!
Feeling energetic? Turn it into words! At some point in your day, you will hopefully feel quite energised. Maybe this is the morning for you, after a workout, or like me, you might be a night owl. A good chat with a friend can leave you in high spirits, or even reading a WhatsApp that makes you chuckle. This is when to get creative! Strike while the iron’s hot, as they say! Open your laptop or grab a pen for your notebook (or, if it works for you, go to the notes in your phone).
Write for no longer than 15 minutes. Set a timer. 15 solid minutes. Don’t think about what you’re writing about, just write. It can be something as simple as this; I don’t know what to write. I can’t stop though. My fingers are going faster and faster as I type. My mind has gone blank. I should be coming up with wonderful ideas, life-affirming quotes, but I am in fear of boring my reader… And on you go. Before you know it, this character you’re creating - and who is clearly suffering from writer’s block - might just start behaving out of the ordinary. Will their anxiety lead to… murder?!!
Ordinary vs Extraordinary. Your novel only needs to be about one of two things. A). Something extraordinary happening to somebody ordinary, or B). Something ordinary happening to somebody extraordinary. Think about it. Your average girl meets the love of her life during her daily commute to work. The guy next door puts a knife through a burglar’s chest. Or! A superhero needs to lie low and live a normal life in suburbia. Your imagination can go anywhere from here with these simple scenarios.
Less of the judgement, please. Understand that what you write is a first draft. It’s for your eyes only. Nobody is going to judge. But it’s so much better out there and on paper rather than stuck inside your head. Scenes and characters will only get jumbled up with that meeting with your team, the school run, the weekly shop and your latest Netflix binge. Seeing words down on paper is much clearer than thinking them.
Enjoy the word Count! You deserve to celebrate all the wins, big and small; 398 words… 523 words… 1045 words… Before you know it, you’ll be tapping away and hitting 2000 words a day.
Stephen King is one of many writers who swear by the method of writing 1000 words a day. No more, no less. He believes it is crucial to STOP at 1000, then go about your day. Do not return to your manuscript. Then, the next day, keep going and write the next 1000.
Personally, I haven’t tried this method but it interests me hugely. I am an editor. I edit, edit, edit, making my first drafts into third drafts in one sitting. However, this makes my process of start to finish much longer. I can hit a wall when I can’t seem to jump onto the next exciting moment. Stephen King’s method is fun and thrilling (just like his writing!). You aren’t putting yourself under any sort of enormous pressure and you are pushing on and on with your story. This is probably much more difficult than it sounds, but like with any new exercise or skill, you will get into a rhythm. You will even start to look forward to that part of your day. 1000 words is just two sides of A4.
Or, decide that 500 words is your limit! A page a day.
Once you write, The End, go back to the beginning and redraft. But how amazing! You will have a whole manuscript to play with. Every single word, yours.
So if you want to write a book, acknowledge how you feel about it. It can be frustrating knowing that you have a good idea, something you want to unleash, but getting started feels like standing at the foot of a mountain. That frustration is only going to build and build if you don’t get the words out. Believe in yourself. Yes, it’s a fantastic achievement to write a book, but it’s also possible for so many. And the book itself doesn’t matter; it’s the process of writing and how it helps you to uncover your thoughts, your feelings and your desires.
Basically, if you want to write, you - quite simply - have to write.