But of all the people who express a desire to commit their thoughts and knowledge to paper, very few actually succeed. Why? Because most people don’t know how to START.
Or they find the blank piece of paper or computer screen so daunting they move onto another creative project (Scrapbooking anyone? Beading? Pottery?)
But, like anything in life, if writing a book – and finishing it – is a long-held dream, then you have to be hungry for it. Being hungry feeds ambition and that, in turn, will help you realise your dreams. How much do you really want to be an author? If you answer, “Very much!” then stop making excuses and get writing!
If the love of writing and love of reading is in your blood then you will find that once you start writing you will feel so good about yourself and what you’re achieving, you will not be able to stop. In fact, there is nothing wrong with becoming completely obsessed with your book.
This doesn’t mean you have to bore your friend and family senseless by constantly hammering them with tales of your brilliant characterisation techniques, researching skills, or your ability to come up with unique plot twists. But being obsessed with something as important as your book is a good obsession that will simply force you to keep going and going until the book is finished. It’s always a good idea to tell people that you are writing a book because if you ever find yourself suffering dreadful ‘writers’ block’ or a patch of self-confessed laziness, you will rely on your friends to ask you, ‘So, how’s that book going?” or the other question writers-block-affected writers can’t stand – “When can I read your book?” But saying you want to write a book and actually starting and finishing a book are as completely at odds as a person saying they want to make a short film and actually going out and shooting it. You must get to a point where you stop talking about it and just get on with it.
So why don’t you make a promise to yourself today that you will take your first step towards fulfilling your dream of writing a book. Get a blank piece of paper or open a fresh word document and write/type an imaginary title. Even if it is simply “My Book.”
Next, here is a simple writing exercise I learnt many years ago when I was doing my MA in Writing. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Start writing and do not stop until you are finished. It doesn’t matter what you are writing, so long as you write something – ideas for books, ideas for characters, memories you wish to include in your memory. Just write for fifteen minutes. Then you can stop. But, look – you have started something. Don’t be one of those people who says they want to write a book, but never do. I once met a journalist who was offered a publishing deal to write a book. Two years later, she still hasn’t started and the publisher gave up on her.
When I asked her why, she replied, “Oh, it was too much hard work.” Like anything in life, if you want it badly enough, you have to work for it. I’m really passionate about helping people achieve their writing dreams, even if I can offer simple encouragement and simple steps. Writing is hard work, but if being an author is your dream, you only have one life and there is never going to be the ‘perfect time’ to start writing so you might as well start right now. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Go!
LJ Charleston is a Sydney-based journalist and author of The Mommy Mafia: the urban dictionary of mothers, and Fatal Females. She has three sons; she will love them until the Sydney Opera House sails away.