The clock is ticking down to my first day back at work.
In an office.
During specific hours.
I have spent the last week working on finishing my book. That book that has sat within the confines of my computer for almost a year. And during this process, I have learned a few key points that I would like to share:
1. You don’t need a large workstation. Unless you do, then I would get a very large desk that will be able to withstand the following:
- 3 empty coffee cups
- 7 empty notebooks that you bought with well-meaning intentions. You probably won’t need them since writing a book by hand is much more time-consuming, but they are fun to buy. (In my humble opinion- notebooks are the devil; they prove that you don’t have proper handwriting skills, and there is no automatic program to let you know when you spell ‘especially’ wrong.).
- 27 pens that you don’t need because you are typing.
- A comfortable set of noise-canceling headphones so you can effectively ignore the dogs, spouses, kids, and all the housework you are falling behind on.
2. Find a space to write outside the house. Writing is not a 9-5 job. You can say it is, schedule it, but it won’t happen. It’s like that: You’ll be in the middle of a critical scene in your story- someone is about to die, someone just won the prize, or you’ll be in the middle of the steamy sex scene- and then you’ll hear it, “Mom, do you know where I put my phone?”, “Did you wash my work shirts?”, “Can you hand me some toilet paper?” or “What’s for dinner?” Just walk away and go to your local coffee shop or bakery and hide.
3. Hide your phone. The notifications will distract you from your mission. It is nearly impossible to recall the number of times I have stopped mid-sentence because of the ping of a new Facebook post, Ticky Toc video, or a news article about how U.S. Audiologists revealed a secret to treating hearing loss. I cannot help it. I need to know! I would be a disloyal friend if I didn’t ‘Like’ the random photo of a beach, mountain, or family gathering of people I will never meet. What if I miss that one video of a talking dog eating carrots at the dining room table?
4. Make sure that you get up. Before this week, I was very dedicated to my Apple watch and its reminders to stand, stretch, and take some steps at least once an hour. However, since I am entangled in the plot of my book, I have ignored it. I turned off the notification and have been typing my heart away. I took 912 steps yesterday, and that was between my computer, the coffee pot, and the bathroom. I think I have hemorrhoids from all my sitting.
5. No one wants to hear about it. As much as I love my family and friends, they just don’t care if Caroline falls in love with Eidolon, but he is only passionate about work. They don’t understand how thrilling it is to learn that there are 17 different ways to say ‘said,’ ‘replied,’ or ‘questioned.’ They just want to know if you are dedicating the book to them or if they are one of the characters.
The best thing you can do is find other writers to talk to. They understand. They will celebrate that at 2:30 in the morning, a missing plot line popped into your head, and now you can write the next chapter. They understand the sadness of having to kill one of your characters. They will high-five you when you finally get through the sex scene that made you blush just to write.
6. It’s okay if it’s not good. It is unbelievable how often I have cringed upon rereading something I wrote the day before. A visible cringe. It was horrible, but it was written down. I could look at it from different angles and reshape it into something better. It’s better to have it written down and reword it than to have it escape your mind as an idea. You don’t have to use it, but it is there if you need it. Like an umbrella.
7.. Don’t forget to read. Reading will allow you to escape the reality of your own book. Think about it: Would you want to spend 13 hours a day only talking to your family? No, you want a break. It’s the same with writing. After spending 6 hours yesterday with Sydney and Victor describing how they traveled from Boston to Scotland on a plane- I am truly sick of Sydney and Victor. It pisses me off that it took 6 hours to write out the 2-page scene, and now they annoy me.
The act of reading will remind you why you wanted to become a writer in the first place.
There you have it. How to become a published writer by someone who has never published anything.
My final thought- be Great at something you are Good at. Its not easy. It takes time. It takes work. You may have to get a maid. But you will get there!