Recently I explained my inspiration for writing my first novel, Paws on the Ground. So I was amped up to write it, ready to go but realized quickly I had no friggin clue how to write a book. The longest document I’d ever written prior to my novel was my master’s thesis which of course I filled with graphs and charts to fill the pages. So I did what any rational person would do when they wanted to find out about something….I Googled it!
I spent every free moment for several days reading about processes for writing a book. If you’ve ever done this then you probably already now the following:
-There is a lot of advice out there
-Everyone has their own methods for writing a book
-Many processes are contradictory
So with this in mind I looked for common themes and decided upon two:
-write an outline
-just start writing
So I brainstormed during my lunchtime elliptical machine workout in the tent we had for a gym in Kabul and developed an outline which looked like this:
Intro 10K words
Training 25K words
Afghanistan 40K words
Ending 5K words
Total 80K words
I wrote this “comprehensive” outline in the back of my green Army issued notebook that I carried around. I also used that notebook to write ideas during my travels around Afghanistan. I look at that outline now and wonder how the heck I wrote a comprehensive book with proper arc and plotting. I attribute it to reading thousands of books in my life time.
I next established a daily and weekly writing goal for myself. My goal was 3,500 words a week which would put me finishing the novel prior to my re-deployment. In hindsight it was a simple goal to meet but there were many weeks I wrote nothing because I was traveling around Afghanistan. I like to think of that time as “field” research.
With an outline established I went to work and started writing the next morning. As I did every day afterwards I woke at 5:00 AM, went to my office with my laptop, brewed coffee and started to write. I wrote one thousand words the first morning and never looked back.
Do you like stories with a large lead ups (or backstory)?
Do you want action right away?
What do you think the literary agents said about my lengthy backstory?
Here is the next post in this series: Does self-doubt consume you?
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