Writing is an odd family member. It can become your companion or your enemy. It can be a purpose or a folly. But it is always a passion. If it is not, then it is not who you are.
I read comments from people who write randomly. They have never finished anything. They can’t get to the point of getting the last word done or the last thought developed. But they cannot stop. It remains, always, in the back of their mind.
They go through moments when they cannot sit down enough. Where the desire is like oxygen. And then, they simply cease to wonder on the topic altogether. One day they are a “writer.” An author to the extreme. The next day they have no want for the screen or keyboard whatsoever.
I fought this on and off battle for most of my life. The idea and desire to publish remaining ever there yet, most times, out of reach. Like I was floating above the earth in a stationary place and the globe spun beneath me. My book was in that singular special place that I hovered over but once in a great while. I would glance down to see it. My mind would focus on it. I would conjure and consider. I would go for it.
Then a thousand words later, life interrupted and the great adventure was lost again until the next wayward orbit brought it back to me.
Why? Why did I wander about the pages instead of staying in place and getting it done?
That question remains. The reason is that there is no simple answer. Do I write or do I wash the dishes? Do I compose or do I make a living? Do I take my weekend and pour it into the digital pages of my computer or do I go to the beach with the family?
Here’s what I have learned at six books: There will be sacrifices. The trick is to choose which ones to make and which ones not to.
The struggle (which I still go through) is deciding how much of which I need to do and which I need to put off. I do not make a living by writing yet. And I do emphasize YET! If your goal is not to subsist from writing, then you shouldn’t even be reading this. Unless, of course, you’re just a big fan of my writing. In which case, you should read it twice!
Writing as a living is the goal of every serious author. But it’s important to understand that it seldom comes quickly. At least, that is what I have been told over and over. And am experiencing. Supposedly, some of the greatest writers in history wrote until their fingers bled before they made any money from it. And I’m over here wetting myself when I just sell one book! Haha… Yeah.
Writing should be easy. And I mean that. Easy because it is such a vital part of your life.
Your writing should be clear. You should never post a blog or try to sell a book that has parts that are unclear. Honestly, I have used a thesaurus for a Facebook post.
Make sure your words mean what you are trying to say. Check your definitions. With very few exceptions (Dr. Seuss aside) do not make up words because they fit or sound appropriate. I say this as I am coming off of finishing a book in which I made up a number of words. If you must know, please ask.
Do not assume the reader knows your subject. Today there is almost nothing that you cannot find the answer to online. Do your best to research and find ways to explain the details without jumping in and out of the third person.
Make certain your title fits and is clear. Catchy and memorable, yes. Just ensure it makes sense.
Whatever you do, make sure you have an editor. If you cannot afford an editor, at least get some beta readers. People you know will be honest.
Be willing to take advice. And if someone tells you that you shouldn’t be a writer, consider it. Don’t let it stop you. Get a few more opinions. Here’s a rule of thumb: If you have a great idea, run it by some people before you write 10,000 words. Who knows, it may be amazing. It also might be total fruit. DO NOT go to your online fellow writers and ask for advice on a particular topic without being clear what you are asking. And then, be gracious about the responses!
When you begin writing, do not focus on the word count or the editing until you have gotten somewhere. Like to the end of a chapter. You want 5,000 to 7,000 words per chapter for a full-length novel. However, in reality, you can play with that number if you are able to keep your reader interested. For instance, one of my books used days instead of chapters. The story would not permit it otherwise.
This is just my opinion, but you need to position standards within your writing. Places you will not go. I will not use foul language or sex. I like the idea of kids being able to read my work with no fear of embarrassing them. All my work is Christian or nearly Christian. There are many great worlds and lives to explore without adding junk to it.
There are many more bits and pieces of advice. Here’s the greatest one: There is no feeling like the feeling of when that first copy of your first book arrives in the mail. Nothing. I wept for a solid five minutes! But you gotta write. You gotta fight that fight to drop a few thousand words once or twice a year. You gotta get it done! And guess what? You can do it in a much quicker fashion than you think.
Written by Matt Davenport (Sapphire Arts)
Featured Image by Avi Richards