After hearing David Sanford speak at Multnomah University, I set the goal to write and publish three books before the end of 2011. I barely made it on time, but the last of the three was released December 22nd with just a few days to spare. After my crazy three book writing spree produced DIY Kitchen Chemistry, The Art, Science and Business of Aromatherapy and How to Make Melt & Pour Soap Base from Scratch many writers asked, “How did you do it?”
In a nutshell here are the top ten methods I used to get it done.
A writer can never read too much. Read about writing, read successful authors in the genre you want to publish in, read the cereal box, read fiction, nonfiction, magazines and fluff, just read. Reading stimulates creativity and inspires.
You can identify the books that inspire me from my library by opening the cover of the book and looking for my scribbling. A good book will have sections underlined and marked up. A great book will have inspired notes scrawled across every blank space of paper in the book. When I’m stuck I can get unstuck my flipping through the pages of one of the great books from my library and reading my notes.
“If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King
Just write. I know that sounds trite, but it is true. Write junk for a few paragraphs if you have to, but get started. You can waste a lot of time and energy getting ready to, get ready to start. Don’t edit yourself as you write.
I’m a huge believer in the zero draft. You should write your zero draft as if you are vomiting everything out onto the page. Your zero draft is the one no one sees. It should be full of mistakes and random ponderings. Get it all out on paper and then come back to it to cut, edit and blush about your grammatical errors. The zero draft allows you to write with the sole purpose of finding out exactly what you have to say. When writing flows uninterrupted you have the opportunity to discover uncensored brilliance.
“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” Margaret Atwood
3. Guard Your Time
Little things are the greatest stumbling blocks to writers. Things like laundry, dishes, TV, kids, text messages, Facebook, Twitter and phone calls are high among the distractions that vacuum up your time. If you are serious about writing the only way to accomplish your goals is to turn off the distractions for a period of guarded time.
I’ve got three kids. In order to not set myself up for failure I tried not to choose time periods that had a high potential of needing to be kid time. But sometimes the kids had needs that ate up my set aside time. On those days I waited until everyone was in bed before attempting to write that day.
During your writing time turn off TV and radio, sign out of social media outlets and email inboxes, leave the phone in another room and otherwise shut out the distractions that are your Achilles heel.
“Being a poet is one of the unhealthier jobs–no regular hours, so many temptations!” Elizabeth Bishop
4. Join a Writers Group
Writers need other writers. No one quite understands the inner workings of a writer better than another writer. Most importantly writers need the accountability. I have heard countless writers say that they need an agent just to get started, but in reality you need a writers group to bounce your work off of before you meet with an agent. The writer’s group critique is vital to moving a story forward.
I found my writers group by trial and error. I wanted a group of Christian writers so I started one at my church, it morphed, grew, shrunk and changed over the years. I’ve been invited into other groups along the way as well. It seems like when you have a writers group you belong to suddenly other opportunities open up.
You can use Writers Meetup, join a writing class and create a group of that group, or even join an association in your area.
“Half my life is an act of revision.” John Irving
5. Educate Yourself
As long as I have breath left in me I will be seeking further education. I’ve never looked back and regretting learning something new. That is why I ended up sitting in a seminar for Multnomah students and their spouses given by David Sanford on getting published. That seminar swung all the doors open to the publishing world for me and removed the self-imposed shackles that I had on my writing.
Take writing classes at your local community college or university. I took fiction and poetry writing in college long ago, but learned so much when I started taking journalism classes at Multnomah University.
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly.” C. J. Cherryh
6. Create a Plan
Take the time to write out your ideas for up to ten books you want to write. Include in your Books to Publish plan who your target audience will be, where you are in the process, what needs to be done and what makes you uniquely qualified to write this book.
“All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary — it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.” Somerset Maugham
7. Set a Deadline
Now that you know what you want to write, set deadlines for yourself. Without a deadline you will have no goal to shoot towards. With that said, forgive yourself when you miss a deadline and reset the goal. Don’t use missing your deadline as an excuse to give up.
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Douglas Adams
8. Keep Notes
My world is littered with little scraps of paper, notebooks and scribblings. Life is inspiring all day long, every day. Write down the thoughts, words, memories, songs and unfinished thoughts that whoosh past you every day. Hang onto them, collect them and turn to them when you sit down to write. These little notes and notebooks are the ammunition that will help you fight the battle against writers block.
“The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook stage. It is like believing in dreams in the morning.” Erica Jong
9. Blog and Social Media
Promoting your book and yourself as a writer does not start the day your book publishes. Create a platform today for the books of your tomorrow. This blog is new to me, but I started blogging in 2007 with EssentialU blog. Sometimes you need to switch platforms midway, and that is okay too.
Start building your platform today. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and this blog. If you want to follow the building of my new platform sign up for my newsletter on the right hand side of this page.
“The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.” Seth Godin
10. Write A lot
William Stafford is my very favorite poet. He was incredibly prolific during his life time. I remember reading that he sat down to write every single day. William Stafford said, “Every day I get up and look out the window, and something occurs to me. Something always occurs to me. And if it doesn’t, I just lower my standards.”
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” Edgar Rice Burroughs
Final word of advice: in the end of the day there are not set fast rules of writing that work for everyone so keep reading to shop for more ideas and direction.
“There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are.” Somerset Maugham
For more writing tips, self-publishing advice, building a platform information and more read my book, “How to Self-Publish: The Author-preneur’s Guide to Publishing” available in Paperback for $8.99 and Kindle for $4.99.