Over the years I’ve heard lots of people say, “I think I have a book idea . . .” My first response is, “What have you written so far?”
“Oh, nothing, but it’s in my head.”
At this point I could go several directions . . .
- Give said writer wannabe a swirly.
- Tap the person on the head ever so lightly and say, “They’re called Readers (of actual text), not Mind Readers.”
- Stare and blink a few times then walk away.
- But usually my better self shows up to these conversations and here’s what I say.
If you want to write a book do one or more of the following:
- Write something. You don’t know what there is in there until you write.
- Go to a writer’s seminar.
- Take a journalism class at a community college or wherever you can.
- Get a book or two on writing. One of my favorites is Anne LaMott‘s Bird by Bird and right now I’m reading Tracy Kidder‘s and Richard Todd‘s Good Prose.
- Read good books and writing in the style you want to write.
- Journal for a year.
- Start a blog or just a private diary.
- Get a blank piece of paper and a pen and doodle and write till ideas come.
- Figure out if you really do want to write or if it’s just a fantasy.
- Write something. Did I say that already? Maybe because it’s the only way you are going to write, is by sitting down with the instruments of writing and putting an outline, ideas, a bad first draft, something on paper. Write something.
Still have that idea just “in your head”? Good writing takes time and energy and practice. Write me if you have questions about the writing life.