As part of my New Year’s resolution to do more writing, I am going to post weekly (I hope!) tips on writing your own book. These are tips and ideas I’ve gleaned over the years from workshops, books, and conferences and I’m going to condense them here for you. So, get out your pencils and let this be the year you finish the darned book!
The first thing a writer needs is something to write, and something to write with. The second part of this is easy – pen or pencil, paper, or a computer or word processor. If nothing else, a crayon and napkin. Or a stick and dirt. Seriously, though, I suggest something a little more permanent (like the pen/pencil/paper or computer). The main thing is to use something that works for you. I tend to waffle between handwriting and computer writing. Yes, computer writing is much faster (at least for me), but I tend to be more focused when I hand write. Then I’m not distracted by the internet (I’ll just check my email before I start) or games (just one more game of solitaire), or anything else. It’s just me and the paper. Find what works for you. Also, keep a small notebook and pen with you at all times (or your iPad/iPhone/etc.) on which to jot notes when the idea strikes. Do not rely on your memory. Memory can be fallible. And keep one by your bedside at night (along with a tiny flashlight) in case you get an idea in the middle of the night.
So you have your writing implements, the next question is where do you write? The answer is, anywhere that works for you. I know writers who have fancy offices with all the trappings who spend eight hours a day there. They have desks, computers, printers, shelves for books, reference works…. I also know writers who have a comfortable chair in a corner of the living room where they write while surrounded by kids, television, and the chaos of daily life. Others sit in the midst of a coffee shop, library, or other spot. Like choosing what to write with, you need to find the place that works for you. A spot that says “Here is where I’m going to write.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a corner of the dining room table that you have to clear off for meals. When you are there, you are writing.
Which brings me to the next topic – storage. I can see the raised eyebrows now. What does storage have to do with writing? Actually, a lot. And better to get it set up and organized at the beginning than try to figure it all out later. No matter what you are writing, you are probably going to have to do some research. Or just need a place to put all those pages you write out or print out. There are any number of handy types of storage available. However, I don’t recommend shoe boxes (unless you have extremely large feet!). You want something that will hold your pages flat. An expandable file will work for this, or a plastic bin of some sort. Make sure it is large enough to hold your pages as well as any research you do. While you’re at it, get another file for notes and ideas – things on weather, settings, people, anything that will spark an idea. Set it up with sections for setting, characters, plot ideas, and any other categories you think appropriate.You can also keep these in separate files on the computer. For things you find in other places, scan and save, or download similar pictures/pieces (do so legally!) and store in your online files. One advantage of this is that it takes up a lot less space, but be sure to always back up!!!
Your homework for the first week is to get yourself organized and ready to write. You will need:
1. Something to write with
2. A place to write
3. Organization files