If you have been talking (and boring? people) about writing a book for years, but haven’t taken the plunge. Then this blog post is for you. It is a guest post by Chris “Dools” Doolan, who has been writing a book based loosely on his University experience, he has always had exceptional story telling ability, but until recently was caught up in the demands of the Day Job. I have been working with him to help provide the accountability, support and structure needed to write a book. With the barriers to entry being eroded all the time, this post will inspire you to take the first step to starting your book. The remaining blog piece are Chris’s words.
Starting a pretty early age, I always enjoyed the pursuit of creative writing. I progressed from semi-legible scrawls to filling numerous notebooks with short stories and poems by the time I hit high school. I even managed to get a poem published at some stage, but by the time I was at university, life happened, and I found that one of my favourite pastimes had fallen by the wayside, and the thought of putting pen to paper was a mere glimmer that shone through once every so often. Fast forward to a few months ago, and the pen was still “light-years” away from abutting the surface of a page or word processor.
The problem was that there was never enough time, never enough inspiration, never enough to ignite the creative flame that could produce a novel, or even just a short story. I knew that there was a novel ferreted away in some tiny niche at the back of my mind, but for the life of me, I couldn’t access it. Well, I can tell you now, that whilst the novel remains very firmly in its niche, I am at least aware of its whereabouts, and am in the process of getting it out of there.
The first step was transferring the beer infused promises of writing a book into a reality rather than an idle threat. It took Dave and I spending just one Skype session with a whiteboard and bombarding it with thoughts until some semblance of a storyboard began to form. This was in fact, the easiest part of the whole process. From there, everything stagnated again due to supposed lack of inspiration, slowly progressing with the scribbling down odd little bits and pieces of the story, but they were too sporadic to be effective, and since the initial start, I had only written a few thousand words. Fast forward about two months, and the total word count is now sitting at around 15,000.
So what happened in those two months? How did I all of a sudden manage to almost triple the amount of writing that I was doing? The answers to this are pretty simple.
One: Done is better than best – I stopped putting so much pressure on myself. Instead of scrutinising each line for what I deemed to be the perfect prose, I just wrote, and worried about the perfection later. The ideas were more important than the finesse.
Two: Enjoyable not a chore -This was a roll on effect from the first answer, as the writing became more fun, it was easier to set aside time to write. Less pressure meant that even if the time spent was just staring at a blank screen for a while, it was all habit forming, which meant the temptation to just leave it and watch a TV show became less and less of a problem. If anything, it became a reward for getting down those couple of hundred words a day. Less pressure also meant less worrying about the number of words produced in a day, sometimes you only have a hundred or so, other time you have a thousand, as long as you’re writing, it’s all good.
Three: Exercise and focus – This is something more recent, exercise and cutting out distractions. There’s a great little app call the 7 Minute Workout (Get the App) that isn’t going make you super fit, but it’s great to keep a little bit in shape, and get the synapses firing before writing. As for the distractions, that’s a bit trickier, but making a concerted effort to not just check Facebook real quick is slowly paying off and I’m spending less time procrastinating, and more writing.
Four: Establishing a routine – Dave and I have a call every two weeks, this accountability means that I am not just relying solely on my own motivation. Public social accountability is necessary to achieve so much in life (just think how you are more likely to go to the gym if you have a gym buddy). I also ensure that the first thing I do when I get home from work is to sit down to write (for you the first thing in the morning may be better), I have a rule that I am not allowed to do anything else until I have been there for 15 minutes. It’s usually longer, but forming this habit takes the choice out of it, I have to decide to not do it, rather than to do it. A subtle, but crucial difference. These rules give me the freedom to write.
Five: Carry a Notebook – I have a notebook or Evernote at hand. Whenever I have a thought, I just jot it down. This saves me on two fronts, one is not losing the thought and secondly it stops the idea churning repetitively through my mind.
And that’s all she wrote (Pun completely intended), the compounded effect of making these little changes and forming something of a habit out of it, things are looking more optimistic every day, and while I’m probably not going to be the next J.K. Rowling, I’ve rekindled (Pun completely intended again) an old hobby which I feel is enriching my life, and who knows, I might even sell a book or two somewhere along the line.