So You Want To Write A Book


I know you’re out there. You, with that idea percolating in the back of your head, those pages shoved in the bottom of the junk drawer. Maybe you’ve just never gotten around to it, maybe kids/work/life got in the way, or maybe you got distracted by a saner project.

Either way, you are not alone. You may have imagined yourself toiling away behind your keyboard at all hours and grinding your teeth from too much caffeine, but it doesn’t have to be that way. (Okay, not all the time). Here are a few things to help you get started:

Short for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit foundation (You know you’ve got a common problem when a foundation is created to conquer it) as well as a challenge to help you, YES YOU, write a book. Every November 1st, thousands of wannabe writers dedicate themselves to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. One of my favorite books, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, was born of NaNoWriMo. Check out the NaNoWriMo site for resources.

Tempany Deckert’s Write A Novel, Change Your Life Course
The universe sent me on a date with a guy (I think his name started with a J?) who had taken a writing course with Tempany Deckert, author of 18 novels and professor at UCLA. After one phone call with Tempany, I was hooked. I took her class privately but Tempany now offers her Write A Novel, Change Your Life course online. In just ten weeks, Temp will help you write your book from start to finish. This is how I got my initial draft. She is still my writing coach (and therapist) on the days I feel like tossing the whole thing into a fire.

I used to write in Google Docs. It was a disaster. (Kudos to anyone who did this stuff with pen and paper.) Scrivener streamlines the writing process by allowing you to have your manuscript notes, research, and more, all in one place. Here’s an example of what my app looks like when I’m writing an article:

The Mac version is $49 and worth every penny.

“But I can’t come up with an idea!”
When I tell people about my book, they ask how I came up with the idea. (Stay tuned). The truth is, I didn’t come up with the idea. In the first version I wrote in Tempany Deckert’s class, my main character, Tag was a playwright, not a novelist. He was an employee at a tech company, not a grad student. We first saw him standing on the edge of a rooftop. Now, we meet him right after his manuscript has been stolen. You get the point. It’s iteration.

You do not have to start with THE GREAT AMERICAN IDEA for THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. Just start with something. Anything. Take the pressure off. Write down the crappiest idea you can think of.

“But a novel is so long!”
You do not have to write a tome. Publishers are looking for short books! Yes, writing a novel may still take years of your life. You’re going to be years down the road anyway, you might as well be there with a good book.

Write on,


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