Divide by 50 weeks accounting for two off-weeks , and you get eight pages per week. Now is the time to adjust these numbers,while setting your deadline and determining your pages per session. Or you know your book will be unusually long. Change the numbers to make it realistic and doable, and then lock it in. Remember, your deadline is sacred. I quit fretting and losing sleep over procrastinating when I realized it was inevitable and predictable, and also that it was productive.
Maybe it was at first.
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If you have to go back in and increase the number of pages you need to produce per session, do that I still do it all the time. Have you found yourself writing a sentence and then checking your email? Writing another and checking Facebook? Then you just have to check out that precious video from a talk show where the dad surprises the family by returning from the war.
That leads to more and more of the same. Look into these apps that allow you to block your email, social media, browsers, game apps, whatever you wish during the hours you want to write. Some carry a modest fee, others are free. Your details and logic and technical and historical details must be right for your novel to be believable. The last thing you want is even a small mistake due to your lack of proper research. Your credibility as an author and an expert hinges on creating trust with your reader.
That dissolves in a hurry if you commit an error. Talk back to yourself if you must. It may sound silly, but acknowledging yourself as a writer can give you the confidence to keep going and finish your book. Not you-first, not book-first, not editor-, agent-, or publisher-first. Certainly not your inner circle- or critics-first. When fans tell me they were moved by one of my books, I think back to this adage and am grateful I maintained that posture during the writing.
So, naturally, you need to know your reader. Rough age?
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General interests? Attention span? When in doubt, look in the mirror. The surest way to please your reader is to please yourself. Write what you would want to read and trust there is a broad readership out there that agrees. Oh, it can still change if the story dictates that. But settling on a good one will really get you off and running.
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Great opening lines from other classics may give you ideas for yours. In a novel, if everything is going well and everyone is agreeing, your reader will soon lose interest and find something else to do—like watch paint dry. Are two of your characters talking at the dinner table? Have one say something that makes the other storm out. Some deep-seeded rift in their relationship has surfaced.
Thrust people into conflict with each other. Check out some of the current bestselling nonfiction works to see how writers accomplish this.
Tension is the secret sauce that will propel your reader through to the end. Many of us are perfectionists and find it hard to get a first draft written—fiction or nonfiction—without feeling compelled to make every sentence exactly the way we want it. Deep as I am into a long career, I still have to remind myself of this every writing day. I cannot be both creator and editor at the same time. That slows me to a crawl, and my first draft of even one brief chapter could take days. Our job when writing that first draft is to get down the story or the message or the teaching—depending on your genre.
Imagine yourself wearing different hats for different tasks , if that helps—whatever works to keep you rolling on that rough draft. This chore is about creating. Some like to write their entire first draft before attacking the revision. As I say, whatever works.
I alternate creating and revising. The first thing I do every morning is a heavy edit and rewrite of whatever I wrote the day before. Then I switch hats, tell Perfectionist Me to take the rest of the day off, and I start producing rough pages again. Compartmentalize your writing vs. Most who fail at writing a book tell me they give up somewhere in what I like to call The Marathon of the Middle.
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The solution there is in the outlining stage , being sure your middle points and chapters are every bit as valuable and magnetic as the first and last. If you strategize the progression of your points or steps in a process—depending on nonfiction genre—you should be able to eliminate the strain in the middle chapters. For novelists, know that every book becomes a challenge a few chapters in. Force yourself back to your structure, come up with a subplot if necessary, but do whatever you need to so your reader stays engaged.
Fiction writer or nonfiction author, The Marathon of the Middle is when you must remember why you started this journey in the first place. You have something to say. You want to reach the masses with your message. It still is for me—every time. Embrace the challenge of the middle as part of the process. If it were easy, anyone could do it. This is just as important for your nonfiction book as your novel. But even a how-to or self-help book needs to close with a resounding thud , the way a Broadway theater curtain meets the floor.
Agents and editors can tell within the first two pages whether your manuscript is worthy of further consideration.
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That sounds unfair, and maybe it is. Because they can almost immediately envision how much editing would be required to make those first couple of pages publishable. For my full list and how to use them, click here. Imagine engaging a mentor who can help you sidestep all the amateur pitfalls and shave years of painful trial-and-error off your learning curve.
Many masquerade as mentors and coaches but have never really succeeded themselves. Look for someone widely-published who knows how to work with agents, editors, and publishers. There are many helpful mentors online. I teach writers through this free site, as well as in my members-only Writers Guild.
Want to save this definitive guide to read later? Click here or below to download a handy PDF version:. Struggling with knowing how to write a book? Tell me in the comments and feel free to ask questions. Before you go, be sure to grab my FREE guide:. Just tell me where to send it:.
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Master Your Sleep is an invaluable addition to the libraries of those who suffer from sleep disorders and family members of sufferers.
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