There is a romantic idea of the author (which usually stems from films), this has him or her stooped over a typewriter upon a desk in a bay window, the view is normally of the ocean or a city and they are drinking endless cups of coffee whilst chain-smoking at the same time. Anyone who has actually written a book (or is in the process of doing so) will understand that the reality is different from this stereotype, coffee yes, but not so many people smoke these days.
One thing that these films and preconceptions miss is the amount of planning which will go into the successful completion of a manuscript, they will show a writer typing like a thing possessed and in the process creating pages of type effortlessly. What these scenes don’t show you is the hours of planning that will have gone into the structure of the book and the process of actually being able to write it.
So what will you need to consider whilst you’re about to write that best seller?
The first thing and one that can get overlooked is actually being passionate and committed enough to finish what you’re about to start (just think how many uncompleted novels lie dormant in PC hard drives around the globe). Having a great idea for a story is helpful of course but understanding that a great novel will take longer than a weekend to produce is invaluable.
So you think you’re committed and passionate? Keep going with that train of thought! When it comes to the writing of your book you need to be realistic about your timescales, if you take an average page length for a novel of being 250 pages or 80,000 words then you should break it down into how much you know is achievable on a weekly basis.
This is where honesty will pay dividends, most writers in the beginning will think to themselves that they’ll be able to write for many hours each and every day or week, it’s a bit like joining the gym, you start off with good intentions and then overdo it in the beginning, this ends up turning you off and your gym membership gets cancelled.
Writing a book is similar in that you need to set realistic goals for your time and commitment, a working single parent may have less free time to write than that of a retiree, be honest about how much time you will commit to writing each week and stick to it, ask yourself if the time you dedicate is going to feel like a chore in six months.
Of course the other way to look at it is to make a commitment to complete a certain number of pages on each day that you write, you could aim for one page (which is about 330 words) per day or even two, this helps you to have a clear goal and enables you to establish a deadline for when you’ll finish your book (one page every day for five days a week will mean a 250 page book would take you 50 weeks to complete).
Once you know how long you’ll have to write you need to know where you’re going to write.
Having a space which is free from distractions as an author is an absolute must, in an ideal world everyone has an office with sound proof walls and an endless coffee supply to keep you going but in reality your office may just have to be the kitchen table. In fairness it really doesn’t matter too much how luxurious your surroundings are (after all, JK Rowling wrote some of her books in a café and she did okay). But where ever your chosen spot is you should ensure that you have everything that you need to write without stopping (pc, pens, paper, pencils etc.), make sure you switch off your cell phone, Facebook, Twitter and email, these side distractions can suck so much time and hamper your train of thought.
If you share a house with family, loved ones or friends make them aware of what you’re doing, writing a book is easier when people stop interrupting you, you don’t need to be harsh (or swear a lot) but if they know that at certain times of the day and week you are writing they can leave you to it.
So now that you have a time, a goal of pages or words each day, a place to write and that people know to leave you alone you can now start upon the plan for your book.
Prior to actually writing your manuscript this will be the most important document for a writer, your plan or guidelines for the manuscript will cover the start, middle and ending of the book, your characters, location, themes, era, relationships between characters, path of the story, dates and all of the relevant detail which will ensure that your work does not contradict itself.
Crafting the plan/outline for your story can take several weeks or even months, it’s not something that should be rushed and will of course take even longer if your story includes factual situations, people or is a work of non-fiction. The more effort you place in the research and planning of your work the better and easier it will be to actually write the book itself.
These stages may seem a little cumbersome to some would-be writers but they hold the key to not only a successful book but also an enjoyable experience for the writer too, your plan will help ensure that not only you complete you book but that it is an excellent read too.