I’ve been writing for over a year and a half now and I have learned a few truths about the craft that haven’t been raised in the many blogs and articles I’ve read. So for all the budding writers out there, here is a preview of what’s to come.
- Writing a book will take longer than you think
If you’re an average human, your free time is limited. Between juggling your job, going to school, looking after your children, nurturing your friends, running a household, getting on top of your homework, shopping, appointments, club activities…writing takes second place. When you can at last put your butt on a chair and type away, it’s bliss. Words seem to trickle at first, then the flow increases until you reach the zone, where ideas fly and your concentration is absolute. You could write for another eight hours straight. You can’t. Because five minutes after you enter the zone, it’s time to go to work, or to school, or to bed, because it’s 1am and you have to get up early the next day.
Your masterpiece will take three times as long as you imagine to finish it.
And that’s just the first draft.
- You’ll become obsessed with some verbs
Regardless of the usual is/are and has/have, you’ll notice that the same verbs will pop into your mind whenever they fit into a sentence and you’ll have to force yourself to think of synonyms or rewrite the sentence to avoid repetition overload. For me, those words are offer, display, place, rest, retrieve and pull.
- The Google synonyms tool will become your best friend
I use it. All. The. Time. You’ll recognize every single word and will cringe for not thinking of them by yourself.
- Many readers are fickle and opportunistic
Unless you’re traditionally published, some will expect your book to cost less than a quarter of a cup of coffee but provide a HarperCollins quality cover and story. Your book will be downloaded mostly when it’s free, and participants of a giveaway will never read your book because they were only interested in free stuff. Don’t expect a gazillion reviews (good or bad) for your book either. Bloggers are drowning in requests and the average reader will not post anything.
Harsh, isn’t it? Thankfully though, there will be some who will recognize your hard work and will enjoy your style. The hardest part will be how to reach them, when the market is overflowing with so many book offers.
Also, treat the bloggers who agree to read and review your book like precious gems because what they do is hard work too. Being chosen by them is a privilege, not a given.
- You will envy every author
Not just the rich and famous writers. But anyone. You’ll read an article about how Mrs X has won a deal with a publisher and you’ll envy her. You’ll hear about a ditzy celeb who wrote her memoirs and you’ll envy her. You’ll see the great ratings on a new author’s Goodreads page and you’ll envy him.
I’ve yet to meet an arrogant author, so I guess we’re all in the same boat.
I wish it helped.
- You will take bad reviews personally
Okay, this one might just be me. But expect the honest words of a reader/beta reader who didn’t like your book for whatever reason to sting and hurt and make you think of giving up the entire thing. I’ve read that after a few bad reviews, you learn to grow a tough skin. You won’t. So be warned.
- You’ll follow the advice given by others. Then you’ll follow your own rules
The internet is full of advice. For example, authors are supposed to write every day. They’re supposed to follow a tried and tested plot line, avoid adverbs and -ing words. They have to show and never tell. They mustn’t ask friends or family to beta read or give their opinion. They must be present on all the Social Medias in the universe and create their platform.
The advice might be great when you start as it provides you with some useful tools, but in time, you won’t beat yourself up anymore for not writing at 5am every day. You might find that your best friend is more insightful than an unknown beta reader. You’ll realize that social medias are overtaken by millions of wannabes with the same goal as yours. So you’ll swallow the initial dejection and will just concentrate on enjoying the few friendly people you’ll meet along the way. As for adverbs, repetitions etc…you’ll notice them in every published book and will smile each time you do.
What have you learnt yourself that you hadn’t expected?