What Does It Take To Write A Book?
I am often asked what it takes to write a book. Can anyone write a book? What special qualifications do you need to write? It’s a good thing to have talent. It’s great if you have an English degree. However, after teaching people how to write for more than 10 years, meeting and interviewing authors, and writing weekly posts on writing, I think the people who succeed in finishing a book have a number of things in common.
If most people who want to become writers really examined the success rates of other authors, they would never pick up a pen again. Belief gives you the motivation to do things, even those things you would never attempt if you examine how difficult it really is. Self-belief allows you to ignore statistics and to push forward because you have a dream. However, the writers who finish books and become published also have the ability to see the bigger picture. They are realistic within the self-belief.
2. The ability to learn and grow.
Too much self-belief can make you blind to your shortcomings. You can become convinced that your way is the only way. Authors who want to publish know they are creating a product. If you’re writing for an audience, you know that you have to consider what that audience wants. This could mean taking a writing course, doing your own research, or reading books on how to write. If you want to become an artist, you take art classes. If you want to learn how to play a musical instrument, you take music lessons. Why would you believe becoming a writer is any different? Being arrogant about your abilities could lead to many wasted years.
3. The ability to pay attention.
Writers are readers first. Reading is your first step in learning how to pay attention. Published writers read a lot. Writers are also observers of human nature and human behaviour. The writers who succeed are curious as to why people, including themselves, do the things they do. They want to know what gives people pleasure and pain. They see patterns in people’s lives. They listen to their words and see if their actions follow what they say. They create characters who are real. If you want to create a memorable book, watch and listen. Most of your material is closer than you could ever imagine.
You have to finish the book. You have to write even when you don’t want to. Authors who succeed generally have a routine. They write at a certain time every day, or they make sure they write a certain number of words each day. These authors also have a plan (usually an outline) that helps them reach the end.
It is easy enough to write a bad book, but authors who make a living out of writing spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort to get things right. You should care about the final product. This is when being obsessive is a good thing. Every rewrite, every edit, and every stage of your book’s life should be important to you. No mistake, no matter how insignificant, should escape your notice.
The good thing about these is that you can work on all of them.
You can motivate yourself and you can learn how to improve your writing. It is not difficult to read more books and train yourself to observe. If you want it badly enough, you can discipline yourself to persevere and learn how to produce the best book you’re capable of writing.
I hope this post inspires you to want to finish your book.
© Amanda Patterson
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