How to Write Your First Book

Check out this great interview with twenty-one successful authors about the experience of writing their first book—from how they made a living before they sold their first book to the nuts and bolts of getting the words onto the page.

How to Write Your First Book

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Calling All Writers (read this article before you say yes to writing for free)

If you’re being asked to write—anything—for free, I just hope the person asking is your mother or your kid (or the person who shares your bed). Because if the asker doesn’t fit into one of these categories, he or she is no different from someone in a dental chair saying to the dentist: “Oh, and I just want to confirm that you’re not going to charge for this crown, right? I’ll show it to everyone; it’ll give you great exposure.”

Tim Kreider has published an exceptional essay in the New York Times that tells why it’s wrong to write for nothing: Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

You owe it to yourself (and to every writer who ever hopes to make a living writing) to read this article.

 

Kindle or Real Book—What’s Your Preference?

I, for one, haven’t given in to buying an electronic reader. It’s not that I’m against the idea of them. I just can’t picture myself taking pleasure from curling up around an electronic device. But then, I wasn’t the first in my crowd to get a cell phone, and I also dragged my feet about getting a smart phone (and let me tell you, I love my smart phone now).

But there is something about a real book—the feel, the smell, the thickness—that I find as comforting as hot chocolate.

How about you? Do you prefer a Kindle over paper pages? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

You can also check out the thoughts of some of my colleagues on the subject:  “Real” Books and Why We Love Them, by Suzanne Mantell, and Kindle: Friend or Foe, three articles by three other colleagues, Deborah A. LottKristin Loberg, and  Laura Golden Bellotti.

Writing and Failure

Last month, I wrote a blog post on the writer and rejection (If You Get Rejected, Should You Quit Writing?).

Here are some further thoughts on rejection by several oft-published writers, including the likes of Margaret Atwood: Falling Short: Seven Writers Reflect on Failure.

Are You a Good (Enough) Writer?

I just read a lovely piece in the L.A. Times by writer and book reviewer Héctor Tobar. If you have doubts about whether you’re a good (or good enough) writer, read his article: In defense of ‘bad’ writers.

Drawing Inspiration from Nature

My second office

For as long as I can remember I have craved deep greens and muddy browns. I’ve often escaped to natural environments to write, or to read over my writing. I am soothed by trees, bolstered by the earth, and draw inspiration from breathing clean, fresh, mulchy air.

I have favorite spots I escape to, places where the phone won’t ring (sometimes there’s not even cell reception) and where piles of papers won’t grab at my attention.

I once fled to Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, pitched my tent, and promised myself I wouldn’t leave until I’d gotten the upper hand on the chapter I was struggling with. (I stayed a week, but I descended the mountain triumphant, the completed chapter tucked under my arm.) Yes . . . I wrote longhand for a week in that campground void of electricity.

Now I sometimes escape to nature to take a break from writing. But, still, it raises the water table of my creative juices, keeps the well from running dry.

I’ve come to call these spots my “Second Office.” They’re free of rent, and they free my mind.

(Also check out these earlier posts: Go on a Writing Retreat to Kick Your Writing into High Gear and Recipe for a Non-Writing Retreat.)

I invite you to share some stories or images of your own writing (or creative-well replenishing) escapes.

My other second office

If You Get Rejected, Should You Quit Writing?

How many times should you send out a manuscript—and get rejected—before you put that one on the shelf?  And if you deem one manuscript a failure, should you push forward to write another?

There is no pat response because no one can answer these questions but you.

The more accurate questions, perhaps, are these:

  • How many times can you withstand rejection without losing the faith to carry on?
  • How burning is your passion to write and share it with the world?
  • How open are you to getting qualified feedback on your manuscript?
  • How many times are you willing to rewrite until you get it right?

I wish I had those wonderful stats and stories to pull from a hat: X sent out Y manuscript Z number of times before it finally was accepted and published. I know those stories, but I just can’t remember the names of the writers they’re about. You know the ones: some fifty rejections before going on to finally be accepted and become a bestselling classic. (If you know any of those stories please share some with us!)

Succeeding as a writer does not necessarily mean succeeding easily and gracefully. Not everyone gets to sail effortlessly across the finish line. Some will limp across that frontier (from unpublished to published and paid) with plenty of bruises and scrapes from a harrowing journey.

But those who persevere have a chance of getting there.  And those who are willing to rewrite—as many times as it takes—have an even better chance.