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  • debrabarnes

How to write a book

How to write a book.  No, seriously - how do you write a book? Note the question mark here, I am asking you not telling you! After a year and a half of researching and writing I have finished the first draft of my book, but how do I know if I've done it right?

When I started writing I imagined that I would like some close friends (my fellow book club ladies) to read my first 5,000 words as soon as they were written, then I decided to wait until 20,000 words - and now I have 75,000 words down and I am still not ready for anyone (other than my husband) to read it.

I suppose there is no right or wrong way to write a book, and that most writers have their own formulas that work for them, but what about the first-time author like myself?  How do we know if we are heading in the right direction?

A couple of weeks ago I posted a question in an online Q&A session with the author of one of my favourite books, The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman and I asked her about her writing process.  I was very pleased to see from her reply that so far my process has been quite similar to hers.  Here is the Q&A:

The Q&A was arranged by THE Book Club Facebook group which has loads of similar sessions scheduled with other authors over the coming months.  I may be tempted to ask them all the same question!  If you would like to be invited to join the book club then please message me and I will arrange it.

When I tell people I am writing a book I am often asked if I have a literary agent, or a publisher yet.  "No, not yet" is my reply. This might have something to do with the fact that I haven't approached anyone yet, that way I don't have to deal with the rejection.  I have been told of a friend whose father is a publisher and another has given me the name of a literary agent but with the caveat "don't mention my name" so I'm not too sure how to take that one, and of course there is always the option for me to self-publish as an e-book.  At the moment I am keeping my options open as my work is not yet ready for anyone else's eyes.

Again I asked myself if this was the right thing to do.  I had read somewhere that you should start looking for an agent or publisher as early as possible as it can take years! Then I found an article called 'Advice for the first time writer' which I have now pinned up on my cork board and I have highlighted a few of the steps:  Go back over your writing. Revise.  Refine.  Don't waste a first impression.  I like that advice so I am going with it, even if some might think it is an excuse to be writing forever - at the moment I can say "I am writing a book" and that's sounds good to me, but when I have to say "I have written a book and now I am trying to find an agent or publisher", well that doesn't sound so good.

So whether this is me procrastinating (I have been known), avoiding the inevitable or following a genuine creative process I am now taking some time off to do some other stuff before I start on my second draft.  My office is spotless, photos have been printed and frames filled and hang, I've redesigned my blog (do you like it?), hell - I've even started my tax return!  I'm going to read some books, sort out a few cupboards, enjoy the holidays.....  and then start from the beginning all over again!

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