Did you know that when asked, an estimated 75% of people will say that they want to write a book?
But 75% of people aren’t writing books, are they?
There are probably a good number of people who are closet writers that we don’t know about, those who say they want to write, but aren’t able to produce a measurable word count, and those who are actively pursuing their dream.
It’s wonderful to want to write a book, but I’d like to share some advice for those people who REALLY are going to write a book. It’s for those people who aren’t content to just think about writing, they are willing to get down in the depths of that bottomless pit of writing knowledge–that black hole of possibilities in which you can change one word, turn around a sentence, and find the heart of your writing.
If so many people want to write a book….
What stops people from writing?
I could just answer that with—life in general. But to be more specific, I’ll mention a few roadblocks on my path to becoming a published author, as well as some popular roadblocks that have planted themselves in front of others.
Lack of clear, defined goals
Lack of knowledge/understanding of the mechanics of writing
Lack of motivation
Empty bellies that need filled
Wiping noses and changing diapers
Okay, okay, serious again… here’s the biggie
Now I know there may be another realm of the universe where inhabitants have more than 24 hours in a day, but here on earth, where I reside, we all have 24 hours each and every day.
So why do I hear this phrase from so many people? “I’d love to write a book, but I just don’t have the time.”
*cough* cough* I often wonder what they mean by this—that all serious writers have extra time and that’s how they are able to write books? I don’t live in a time warp–I only get 24 hours each day.
Let me emphasize that I think it’s wonderful to have a desire to write, I’m not looking down on anyone for having that desire and facing difficulties in making the desire an action.
But if you’re serious about writing and you actually are going to do more than just want to write a book–namely you’re going to do whatever it takes to make your dream a reality–here’s my first tip:
Ditch the “I don’t have time” excuse and stay tuned because over the next few months I’ll be sharing 6 Tips for Writing Success interspersed with some great guest posts. I’m not an expert, but I have been studying the craft of writing, attending conferences, classes, and working with critique groups for almost a decade. The #1 thing I’ve learned? I’ll never stop learning.
6 Tips For Writing Success
1. Find your voice
2. Make writing a priority/write every day
3. Attend Writers Conferences
4. Enter Writing Contests
5. Join a Critique group
6. Set Specific Goals
Today we’re going to focus on–Find your voice
I’m taking some of this from a blog post I wrote in 2009.
Last January, I went to a one-day writing seminar in Provo. I took my 4 month old baby boy with me because it was a small class and I had a moment of *insanity/mommy wants to break her parole from being housebound with a baby and pursue her writing career*
My baby was supposed to be good. Instead my husband ended up having to come and get him halfway through. This was after he’d pooped through his diaper and down my leg and I’d tried to wash out my pants and use the blow dryer in the bathroom. I told you it was insanity!
Anyway, what does all this have to do with voice? I’m a gettin’ there!
We did several writing exercises and one of them was on voice. I don’t remember a lot of fine details about that class, but I do remember the impression made that it was important to find your own unique writing voice.
You can’t imitate someone’s writing style or voice because it will come off sounding phony. Think of your favorite books. What was it about those books that sang to you?
I’m guessing it was the incredibly potent voice of a character–the way the character seemed to be sitting right beside you as you read about their travails. The strength of the voice in a novel can make or break it. In literary novels, voice is usually the number one factor that creates the story.
So how do you find your own voice?
Write in first person, third person, present-tense, past-tense. Find your style and find how you can best identify with your character.
When do you find the most joy in your writing?
Have you analyzed your writing? Do all of your characters sound the same? Do any of your characters haunt you while you’re telling their story?
Your voice should be so real that your story leaps from the page and connects with readers.
*Try some free-writing exercises. Write about a girl chasing butterflies. Write a page about a boy climbing onto the roof of a school.
Examine your writing. What do you see? What do you hear? Does your writing speak to you, and if not, why?
After that crazy day, when I returned home from the class and took care of my family and rocked my baby and got ready for bed, something happened.
I was tired. I got in bed and closed my eyes and began to relax and a sentence came into my mind.
Sometimes the wind sings through the trees like it has a soul of its own.
My eyes opened. I jumped out of bed and wrote down the first line. I savored that first line. Where had it come from? Then I wrote the first page.
And I felt it!
I felt like I had found my voice. The words were singing to me and I continued to work on that novel for the rest of the year. The first few chapters won a first place and second place award and I continued to write.
I loved writing that novel. I loved it because I found my voice and my voice flowed onto the pages until the words sang a story that touched my heart. I’ve written four books since then and (shameless plug) my second suspense novel will launch this month on the 13th. Check out my blog for details on my tour and awesome launch giveaway.
I hope that you can find your voice. Practice. Listen. Write. Cultivate your voice. Dig for it. And let it sing.
What do you think?
Do you want to write a book?
What questions do you have about writing and making writing a part of your life?
Feel free to leave your questions and I’ll try my best to address them in an upcoming post.