How to Write a Book

So you want to write a book. Okay. This is particularly easy. But what you decide to do wif it, is going to be all your own. There is no wrong way to write a book. There are only ways which may not be as easy for you to pursue, ways that work for you, and ways that actively get in your way.

Before you write a book, it is important that you become at least passingly-familiar with your own physical, mental, and emotional shortcomings. What are your weaknesses? You can write them down if that helps you work through them, but it’s not really necessary.

For me, my shortcomings, vis a vis writing, are:

  • I lose track of what’s happening, in my own writing, beyond 20 pages.
  • I get very tired when proofreading, resulting in very little work getting done, after about 6-10 pages.
  • I am a perfectionist.
  • I am very verbose. I write a lot.

Actually, you know what? Write down what personal weaknesses get in your way, as you’re writing. Then you can work on them.

Then, come up with solutions for them. These solutions may not always be what you want, and you might not like working around your own weaknesses, but it will make the work ten thousand times easier.

I came up with these solutions:

  • Do not write a chapter that is beyond 20 pages. Break them up into smaller chapters. I really don’t like this one, but I have to admit, I was getting a little bored, reading through my longer chapters.
  • Proofreading smaller / less-lengthy chapters results in more work getting finished. And, also, make a dedicated page, somewhere, where you can track your proofreading work. When you’ve completed proofreading and editing a chapter, leave it alone.
  • Also, in case you run into the same problem I do, make sure that you write CliffNotes-style synopses for chapters you’ve ‘finished’. This will allow you to keep track of what you’ve done, and help you plan for what you need to get done.
  • Do not let ‘perfect’ become the enemy of ‘good’. If the text fits what you wanted it to convey, and you cannot think of a better way to put it, you cannot condense it or make it more succinct, or concise, learn how to leave it. It’s been said that no work of art is ever finished: it’s merely abandoned. Please try to get comfortable with this. Otherwise, you’ll be writing the same book, for the rest of your life.
  • Let yourself be verbose when there’s no other way to convey the point or feeling you’re trying to articulate. But, learn how to edit. Learn how to condense things into smaller forms that convey all the same meaning that you were trying to convey in the first place. Sadly, I have no tips for you, on how to do this, but, I have an adhoc example that you can ‘study’:

Let’s use the Great Gatsby, for example.

He didn’t say any more but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores.

We can condense this, rather painfully (I know the Great Gatsby is a great work of art; I’m sorry, I just needed a quick example):

He said no more. Which was odd for him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I can do right now, to show you how to condense. There are several things that are missing here: vital portions of meaning that are quite necessary. But you can expand upon these. Think of this as a writing exercise you are free to undertake at your leisure.

TL;DR In order to be successful at writing, identify the things that keep you from publishing things. Work to overcome them. And then keep on writing.

Good luck. I know you can do it. c(◕ᴗ◕✿)