A common question I hear from people at book signings is, “How do you even begin to write a book? Do you set aside a little time every day, or do you just write when the mood hits you?”
Each of my books was a little bit different….
My first book, A Letter to My Son, took me around ten years to complete. In hindsight, the majority of that time was spent procrastinating rather than writing due to fear of the unknown. I didn’t see that clear path ahead of me. I didn’t know how to get published and wasn’t all that sure it would ever happen, so I felt no strong sense of urgency to finish the book. Then, one year, I experienced a life-changing event that had me questioning myself and my life purpose. It was the catalyst that motivated me to finish my book once and for all … to find a way to publish it … to keep that promise to myself. Once I found that resolve, all the information and resources I needed to publish the book found me. And I did it! (Smiling.) What a proud moment!
Each book that followed came a little easier simply because I knew the process ahead of me. Isn’t that the way life is? The first time you try anything is always the hardest. But, if you push through that initial fear and prove to yourself that it’s possible, it does get easier. Needless to say, my second book, A Letter to My Daughter, took me only two months to write. My third book, 11:11, took me around six months.
When I was younger, writing was more a pastime than a career aspiration, so I only wrote when the mood hit me. After my first book was published, and I became a little more serious about things, I found a structure that seems to work very well for me to this day….
I treat writing the same way I treat my regular job. I set aside a certain number of hours each week, and I make sure I’m seated at my desk on time. Sometimes, when I sit down to write, I have no idea what I’m going to say. It might take half an hour to get that first awkward sentence out of my mind and “unlock the floodgates” of creativity, but I’m always pleasantly surprised with how much I have at the end of the session. It appears the intention to create is the very thing that attracts the creation—every single time. Another thing I do is set deadlines for myself. In January, I might say, “I want the first draft of this book completed by the end of June.” And then I stick to that schedule. I keep that promise to myself. That’s what seems to work best for me.
I would like to hear from some of my fellow writers out there. What is your creative writing process? I’m interested in learning what works for you.
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