05 April 2010

So You Think You Can Write A Book?

It happens to me all the time.

In the produce section of the grocery store, outside the kids' school, at the bookstore, on Facebook, by telemarketers, everywhere I turn I hear, "You're an author? I've always wanted to write a book."

It seems everyone has played with the idea of writing a book. It sounds glamorous, doesn't it? Seeing your author face on the back cover, sipping champagne with your agent, traveling the world on fancy book tours, going to all those opening night debuts of the movie version. Ahhh. It's the life. Pardon me one sec while I pop another bon bon into my mouth.

There's only one thing standing in the way of all that glorious adulation. And what was that again? Oh, yeah. Writing the book.

So tell me. If you think you can write a book, why don't you?

Oh, I can hear the excuses coming now:

1) I don't have enough time to write. I'm far too busy.

Do you want my honest opinion on that one? I see you smile. You know what I'm going to say, don't you? You and I have the exact same number of hours in a day. 24, right? And me? I have a job completely outside the realm of writing. I'm a mother and wife. I clean my own house (sometimes. Sorry hubby, I'll get on that when I finish off the bon bons), pay my own bills, do the taxes, laundry, and grocery shop. I help the kids with their homework, go to the school meetings, volunteer in the classroom. I have friends, family, and pets who need me. You get the point. I have a life.

But I also make time to write.

When people ask me how I find the time, I usually say, "Oh, I squeeze it in." I write a little before I take the kids to school, in the afternoon, at Subway when I'm eating a footlong turkey sandwich, and when the kids go to bed. I edit what I have written on the Elliptical Machine at the "Y", or when I'm waiting to pick up kids. I get up the next morning and do it all over again. I work everyday except Sunday.

Here's the big secret to being able to squeeze in the writing: You've gotta love it. I mean it. Writing is my dark chocolate kind of bliss. There's a certain joy that I get when those pages come to life that is indescribable. If the joy wasn't there, I couldn't do it. I wouldn't.

Next excuse.

2) I can't write.

Really? Who told you that? Your fourth grade teacher, your college professor, that nasty little internal voice inside your head that is also telling you that your butt looks big in those jeans and OMG is that another gray hair? Seriously. I want names. I've been aching for a butt kickin' and who ever gave you that bucket of steaming, um smelly stuff, needs a swift kick in the beehind. I am sure you can write. Maybe you just need to learn how to write BETTER. Honestly, we can all improve our writing skills. All of us.

How you ask?

a) Read, my friend, read. Go to the library, bookstore, your best friend's bookshelf, and pick up as many books as you can carry. Then do your homework. Honestly, did you think you could become a writer without putting your back into it? You've got to learn what works and what doesn't by reading other books. Take notes. Learn. Study.

b) Write! Writing is like anything else. The more you practice, the better you get. Do you know that if you can write just three pages a day you will have a rough draft finished in three and a half months. You can do this. I swear you can. Write, baby, write.

c) Share. Join a critique group that can help you improve as a writer. You will help them, they will help you, and in the end we all win.

d) Go to school. Take classes, go to conferences. Many professions require an education, why should this one be any different? Learn. Better yourself. Grow.

The excuses are running out.

3) I don't know what to write.

That's easy. Write what you love to read. You are going to be spending many precious (days, weeks, years) with this thing, so you've gotta love it. Try your hand at writing the kind of books you enjoy reading. Write what makes you happy, and the rest will follow.

There are probably more excuses out there, but I bet I can shoot them all down. Try me. Leave a comment.

And if you think you can write a book, I say go for it. What have you got to lose?

Here, take the bon bon box. I've got work to do.

Kimberley Troutte
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