Entries Tagged 'Getting started' ↓

6 Reasons a Writing Group Is ALWAYS a Good Idea

No matter where you’re at in the writing process, the question may come up: Should I join a writer’s group?

Whether you’re thinking about a class at a local community college, a writer’s workshop or critique group that meets in your area, or a more casual gathering with a few other friends who write, I always say GO FOR IT!

Reason #1: Being Around Other Writers Keeps You Motivated

I was thinking about the most common things that got in the way when I was struggling to write my first book. I didn’t just have one problem, it seemed like I had them ALL.

There were days I wasn’t motivated, and most of the time I wanted to write I didn’t seem to have the time. Sometimes it was the thought that I wasn’t any good that kept me from putting fingers to keyboard, and other times it was the daunting idea of writing anything better than the masterpiece I’d just finished. There were the negative comments from family. And the mockery of many acquaintances and co-workers. I could mention a half dozen hobbies I was passionate about that clamored for my free time.

But let’s just say that you overcome ALL that and also whatever your particular issues are. You’re on a roll. You’ve got it going on. You’re in the zone. The words are pouring out, and have been for weeks (or months or years). You are WRITING.

Well, that means you have writing that is ready to be read by others. So even if all is flowing smoothly, hearing feedback from other writers will give you direction for improvement and keep you excited about what you’re doing.

Reason #2: You’ll Discover Your Writing Strengths

After hearing from a variety of people about your writing, you will begin to see patterns of responses. You will find out what your writing strengths are.

Maybe you’re great at description, setting the scene of the story. Maybe your writing is technically accurate and logically clear, great for the textbook or business writing you want to do. Maybe you have a flair for humor. Or dialogue. Or action scenes. Maybe you connect to your readers’ emotions and get them interested in what happens to your characters.

Knowing what you do well will help you to capitalize on those strengths. It will also be encouraging!

Reason #3: You’ll Find Out Where Your Writing Needs Improvement

As valuable as it is to know what you do well, it’s even better to know where to focus your time revising your work or improving your skills. Some writers find that they NEVER get the hang of doing great first drafts. They ALWAYS have to go back and take several passes through their work to build up the areas that they simply don’t do naturally.

Other times, you can (over time, through practice) gain the skills you need to improve your first drafts considerably. Either way, a writer’s critique group or class will help you pinpoint the problems in your manuscripts.

Reason #4: You’ll See Things From a Reader’s Perspective

Feedback from several people regarding how they experienced your writing is priceless. It’s your chance to get in your readers’ heads and understand how you’re coming across.

Not only that, but when you read what others in your group have written, you will experience things from a reader’s perspective. You may find things that the other writers are doing that annoy you and then realize that you’re doing those same things.  Doh!

Reason #5: Everyone Needs Practice Meeting a Deadline!

It may not be my favorite thing, but I’ve found that I am much better at hitting my deadlines than I used to be. And I know that being part of a writing class, and later a writer’s group, was a big part in helping me establish the working habits I needed to be consistent in this area. When I know that someone is waiting to read my work at the end of the week (or month), even if it’s not an editor or publisher, I get moving!

Reason #6: Support Groups Aren’t Always Anonymous, Or Writers Need Support, Too!

Some people I know think writing is something of a pathological disorder that needs a cure — but even if you are comfortable and secure being a writer, there’s something empowering, encouraging and downright FUN about hanging out with other writers. Like any subculture, we have our own jokes, our own struggles, our own unique joys. And who better to understand your writing experiences than other writers?

The next time you share your writing passion with someone who stares at your blankly (or worse, smiles politely with several clueless nods thrown in for good measure), just remember: there IS a place where others would understand.

“Hello, my name is Marci, and I’m a writer!”

Writing a Book Starts With a Purpose

So, you want to write a book? That’s great! If you’re here, then you’ve probably thought about it long enough that you’re ready to take action. That’s excellent. Every book begins with the first step, and the first action item is this: KNOW YOUR BOOK’S PURPOSE.

Some questions that you need to answer include:

  • Is your book fiction or non-fiction?
  • What genre? For example, some fiction genres include romance, science fiction, suspense thriller. Some non-fiction genres include memoir, exposé, self-help, recipe book or how-to guide.
  • Who are you trying to reach with your story or information? Who is your book’s audience?
  • What style do you think you’ll write the book in? Some people are very entertaining in their writing style, others are very straightforward and direct, some complex and others simple.
  • How much of your intended topic or story will you cover in this one book? It’s possible that your idea is actually enough for several books.
  • What do you want the reader to walk away with after they’ve finished reading your book?

Knowing is Not Enough — You Must Write It Down!

You may know exactly what your book’s purpose is and be able to tell anybody who asks at the drop of a hat. However, knowing it and even being able to tell people about the book you’re going to write is not enough. You MUST take the time to write down this information. It may only take a few minutes and fit on a single sheet of paper. Or it might take weeks and you fill up several notebooks. If you are the second type and tend to be prolific in your writing, then I advise you write it all out until you are satisfied and THEN boil it down to a single page. The purpose should be pointed and concise.

And did I mention? Write it down!

For example, you might want to write a book about hamsters. That’s great! But WHAT are you going to write about hamsters? There is a big difference between sitting down to write the memoir of the two dozen hamster pets you’ve had over the years and writing a guide for 10-year old children on how to care for their pet hamster.

This is where you paint your purpose as a very specific target so that when you’re done writing you’ll know if you hit the bullseye. You will refer to this purpose statement again and again throughout the writing process to stay on target.

Homework

  • Summarize the purpose of your book on a single page. You actually should be able to boil it down to a single paragraph. Include information about who your intended audience is, exactly what about your topic you will cover in your book, and what style you hope to write in.
  • Go to the library or browse Amazon.com and find out what other books are already written on your chosen topic. Don’t be discouraged if other people have already written books on your selected topic, but do take note of what parts of your topic those other books have covered, who their audience is and what style they’re written in. Begin to think about how the book you write will stand out from that crowd, and how you can make your book unique.

You CAN Write a Book!

Everybody has a book somewhere inside them. Some books are more eager than others to “get out” and be seen by the world. Is there a book in you that is clamoring to get out?

Some people act like there’s a big secret to how to write a book. But writing a book really isn’t the hard part. Revising it and crafting it into something that someone wants to publish used to be the biggest challenge. However, even that is much easier than it was ten years ago.

We’re going to show you exactly how to get that book written!

The Big Picture – Overview to How to Write a Book

Here at HowToWriteABookGuide.com, we will walk you through the whole process of writing a book, from start to finish. But first it will help if you understand the big picture. The major milestones of the process look like this:

  1. Clarify the Subject and Purpose of Your Book
    You need to make sure you know exactly what you want to write about before you start. This will save you a lot of time along the way.
  2. Write an Outline for Your Book
    Depending on your personality, the outline might be detailed explanations of every section or a brief list of one-liners.
  3. Do the Research
    If your book needs facts, anecdotes or other specific details to support the story or presentation of information, then you’ll do some data gathering.
  4. Write the Chapters
    Once you know what you’re writing about and you have the facts gathered, then you can put together the chapters of your book.
  5. Review and Revise the Chapters
    Once you have a finished draft, then you will need to read it through again and make changes and corrections.
  6. Have a Friend Read Your Book
    Before your book goes before the eyes of the public or even to a potential publisher, it’s always a good idea to get some outside perspective on it and consider revising based on their feedback.

What You Can Expect From Our How To Write a Book Guide

We want you to succeed. Today, with self-publishing options and the Internet offering more possibilities than ever before for writers to get their book out to the public, what you really need is simple, direct coaching.

Of course, we’re not offering the kind of coaching that calls you every week to see how your book is doing (at least, not yet), but we are confident that if you would take the simple steps we outline here, then your book will get written!

You won’t find advice on how to format your manuscript or how to write a book proposal to give a publisher. We won’t tell you how to plot the best science fiction story or what kind of illustrations you should have on your book cover.

There’s just one thing we want you to get from this site. How to write a book. Period. No frills added, nothing important left out. If you follow our advice diligently step by step, your book WILL be done, start to finish. Ready for the next step, whatever you decide that to be.