I receive emails from people asking how to write a book.
I have written a book but I haven’t actually published it (yet, God give me patience and faith).
So when I am asked, it feels a bit like someone asking a person coloring a picture in a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book how to paint a still life.
Here are 10 kooky tips that popped into my head about writing a book if you absolutely don’t know how to start:
1) Start with a dangerously low self-esteem
This is vital. If you don’t, you may not be able to handle getting knocked off the height of your perch daily from rejection. It’s much easier to begin writing from the depths of despair.
2) If you have kids, get a lock for your bedroom door
My reasoning is two-fold: 1) my bedroom is where I write, and 2) my bedroom is where I cry when I am convinced that I cannot write, and it seems to upset the children when I cry uncontrollably.
3) YOU PROBABLY NEED TO ACTUALLY ENJOY WRITING
Or at least be able to stomach it, if you want to embark on a long project. Seriously, in order to write a book, you have to spend countless hours writing, which may stop you right there. Luckily for me, I love to write and see where it takes me. I also love to sit!
4) Make sure your writing desk has an economy size box of Kleenex.
I cry when I write. I cry over a beautiful sentence (both other people’s and my own). I cry over the fact that I can’t spell. I cry about God’s work in my life rendered on the page.
5) Listen to Papa Hemingway
I talk about Hemingway often, but I believe the goal is one true sentence.
Sometimes sentences string together perfectly and send shivers up my spine. One true sentence is the payback for locking yourself in your room to write.
6) Read books
Readers usually make good writers. Some of my favorite books include “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo, “Traveling Mercies” by Anne Lamott, and “Twilight” by Stephanie Meyer. (I’m just kidding about Twilight. Sorry, not a teen vampire fan.)
7) Join a writing class
Most writing classes will require submissions and offer critique. This forces you to write. For years, I attended a memoir workshop in Chicago.
8) Buy business cards on-line and slap “writer” under your name
Call yourself a writer.
Even if you don’t have anything published, if you write, you are a writer. You may not be an author until you are published, but by golly, you are a writer. Put it out there! (And if you buy 250 business cards and have no one to give them to, the kids love to make up card games with them.)
9) Call or text or email people who love you, often
Writing is solitary. You show up and put words on paper and wonder if you actually have anything of value to offer the world. Call your mom, or your best friend, or Joe, the creepy guy at Starbucks who saw you writing one day and gave you his business card. Call anyone who loves you (OK, maybe not Joe) and ask for encouragement. You need cheerleaders. Buy pompoms and pass them out to friends.
10) Don’t write for attention
Believe me, an easier route for attention would be to hold up a Seven Eleven.
What’s your advice about writing a book?