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Thursday, August 8, 2013

So, you think you want to write a book ...

I've been doing a lot of hemming, and hawing, about writing a book. Some days I feel charged, and inspired, and I write a lot. Other days, I feel defeated, and it's hard to motivate on those days. Like a lot of my readers, I suspect, I have a thousand ideas floating in my head, and focusing enough to get them written down and polished to a high gloss shine is a real challenge.

To combat some of the pitfalls of writing, I do an awful lot of reading and research, not just about my writing topics but also about the art, craft, and science of writing. Today, I came across an article on about the 9 steps to self-publishing a book, and in that 9-step system is a link to six ways that a writer can get started. I read through it, and I think they forgot maybe the most important piece of advice ... READ!

It's a little bit of a forgotten step, I think, but if you are a writer and are stuck, or having a hard time motivating, I've always found it helps tremendously to go back and remind myself about what's possible. It's certainly a great idea to sit down with a book or three, in the same genre as is your writing, but don't forget to also read great books regardless of the genre. Grab Tolkien and Herbert and Dickens, sit down with Joyce and Fitzgerald and Steinbeck, get a cup of coffee with Hemmingway and Heinlein and Nabakov. Sometimes, I realize, reading some of the great novels can feel intimidating ("I can't write like that!"), but it is still worthwhile. I can't write like Hemmingway, nor do I want to. I don't want critics and reviewers to pick up my book, read it, say to themselves "eh, just another Hemmingway knockoff," then never read another of my pieces again. Instead, I want them to read it, write things like "who is the next Bacil Donovan Warren? Is there another author like him out there?" and enjoy my writing for what I bring, not for how much it is like Nabakov's writing.

And that, dear readers, is often quite motivating. So if you find yourself stuck, having a tough day of writing, maybe try sitting down with your dog-eared copy of Dune or For Whom the Bell Tolls, and you might just find the spark that's been eluding you!

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