Ready, Set, Write

writeSo you finally started that novel you’ve been promising to write. And, after some false starts, you think you’ve got the hang of it. One thing for sure, you’re learning that writing is not easy. Whoever said, “I hate writing but love having written” summed this labor of love perfectly. I know this first hand. Last year this time I was where you are today. And from one writer to another I’d like to share seven tips that I found helpful for completing my book.

1. Set aside dedicated time to write. I set aside three days a week Monday through Wednesday to write. I would start at 9:00 am, take a break for brunch, and end approximately 4:00 pm. I considered this time sacrosanct – nothing short of an emergency interfered with this schedule.

2. Writer’s Block – I found that writing something, anything helped to unleash the flow of words. I didn’t edit, worry about punctuation, worry about sequence, etc. Soon some gems appeared that I could later use in my book and many times new ideas took me in directions I had not originally envisioned. Write something.

3. Keep a pad and pen by the bedside. It seems that all the good ideas come just before falling asleep or in the early dawn hours just before you’re fully awake. I found it impossible to remember that “perfect phrase” or character dialogue when I sat at the computer if I didn’t write it down. So….get used to writing in the dark – sometimes the fun comes in trying to decipher what you’ve written.

4. Have someone to bounce ideas and critique your work. Often because we are so into the story we fail to help the reader understand what we are trying to say. A friend, relative, writing group, etc., insight can prove invaluable in this respect.

5. When you have completed your manuscript, copyright your work. You can put the copyright symbol on your manuscript and that would be enough for the law’s automatic protection of your creative work. However registering officially with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington DC gives you the advantage of having a public record of copyright claim in the event of an infringement suit. It also protects your work for your heirs 70 years after your death. The fee as of this writing is only $45 – well spent. www.copyright.gov.

6. Hire a professional editor. Even if you are an English major or have a friend who teaches it, there are writing rules that go beyond typos, mistakes in grammar or redundancy that are applied to all published books (Chicago Writing Style for example). Only a professional editor can help you with this. In order to keep an eye on costs, make sure the editorial service charges by the word. It is easier to verify the cost per word versus a service that charges by the hour.

7. When you are ready to publish your book, (especially if you decide to self-publish), get your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number). This number identifies the book title and you as the publisher for marketing purposes. An ISBN is necessary if you want to sell your work in bookstores, place with distributors, wholesalers and libraries nationally and internationally. For details go to www.bowkerlink.com.

What a sense of accomplishment and pride to have committed an idea to paper and watch it grow into a book. Your book! Writing is a true labor of love.

Barbara Mitchell is a Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Stress Management Consultant. She is the author of, When You Need a Timeout, a how –to guide for reducing stress by adding “me time” to your schedule. www.thecalmingbreath.com