Writing advice from a novice writer and wannabe (soon-to-be) author

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Hello to anyone out there! My blogging has become rather inconsistent, and I appreciate those of you who still stop by. Some of you know that I wrote a book this year, so my writing effort was diverted to that endeavor. It is Christian non-fiction. Soon I will start sharing more details about the topic. Not that I am hiding it, but I am waiting for things to become a bit more settled or official.

I essentially wrote the book between January and early April. For quite awhile before this time I had considered writing a book, but the topic evaded me. Finally, last fall an idea started to brew in my mind. It was an issue I had already blogged about from time to time, yet I wasn’t sure how to turn it into a book in a coherent way. A little research gave me an idea about how to give the book a unifying theme. In January I began, having accumulated a bunch of articles, books, and other sources to help me. I worked hard and consistently.

At present, some friends are reading and editing my book for me – one is doing some serious editing, and a couple others are offering broader feedback. So far, the feedback has been good. Of course, there are suggestions for improvement too (for which I am appreciative) but it is a relief to know that the book is not a disaster and is being received as worthwhile. It is a bit nerve-wracking to work so hard on something, and then let someone else see it. What will they think?

While this is my first time to write a book, I have been an avid informal writer most of my life. I am no expert on book writing, but thought I’d share some tips or suggestions for aspiring authors out there:

  • Just write something! If you want to be an author you have got to begin somewhere. Journal. Write letters. Start a blog. Write essays. Before the time of blogging and when the internet was still young, I self-published a postal based digest 4 times a year on a hobby of mine. I sent it to those who also enjoyed the same hobby. It is my opinion that writing a book is generally something you build up too. If you can’t handle writing briefer and informal things, how will you suddenly write something lengthy and formal?
  • Just start writing! At some point, you must begin! I knew someone who was always planning to write, but never actually seemed to write anything. This person would take classes and attend events related to writing, but it never seemed to move past that stage. They took a class on how to blog, but never started a blog. Etc. Conferences and classes may be helpful, but eventually you have got to put things into action.
  • Writing is hard work. It requires perseverance. While I wrote my book in a little over 3 months, from what I have read it is often a much longer process. A Christian author I appreciate (Philip Yancey) once shared that it took him as long as 2 years to complete a book. Authors of academic or historical works may put multiple years into the research and writing process. Many worthwhile endeavors in life take an extended period of time.

By the way, the only reason I think my book rough draft was completed so quickly was for a combination of 2 reasons. The topic was one that I had long thought about, blogged about, and discussed with certain people. The ideas were all there in my mind or had already been informally written down, so it was just a matter of pulling it all together into a book format. And secondly, my book is brief – only about 120 pages. A lengthier book would have obviously taken more time. If I’d been starting from scratch with a topic I’d not much considered before, I know it would have been a longer process. The point here is that you need to accept that writing takes time, and you can’t give up after just a few months. Keep plugging away!

  • Finally, writers MUST be readers. I’ve read advice from a variety of experienced authors on the importance of reading. I share some of these thoughts in a past post: To write, you must read. Reading is how we: learn new things, develop our imagination, expand our perspectives, sharpen our beliefs, develop empathy, grow our vocabulary, get glimpses into other cultures, improve our concentration. Reading enlarges our world in so many ways. Without these advantages, I think writing becomes a much more difficult task.

On that note, many of my favorite authors (I mostly read non-fiction and a lot of Christian non-fiction) seem skilled at quoting and interacting with the thoughts of other authors as they write. Yes, they have their own unique thoughts, but the references to others enriches their own work. If they were not readers, they would lack these worthwhile ideas to incorporate into their own writing.

Well, those are some writing thoughts from a novice! Any tips of your own to share?

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