Right now I'm a few days into my pre-order campaign for Summer Twilight which is incredibly exciting. I'm incredibly grateful for all the people who have supported me so far, and I'm really looking forward to having some wonderful conversations in the coming weeks with new fans. Since the pre-order process has started, I wanted to write a post about my writing journey - which isn't yet complete! But I think documenting it is really important, and I hope it helps you if you're interested in writing or publishing, or even just curious.
1. The Idea
Writing starts with an idea - something you want to write a book about. It can be real or fictitious, factual or made-up, but it should be exciting. For different people, inspiration comes from different places. My writing ideas pop into my head randomly, bop around for a while, and then slowly coalesce into an actual scene. I write fiction (fantasy), but I don't write based on plot. Characters drive my stories, and you'll notice that the most important moments in my books are about what my protagonists are doing.
My Wisdom: I always let my ideas percolate for a while to figure out what I really want to do with them. My brain kinda works out the kinks in the background before I get to actually writing it. Don't rush, and give yourself time to think an idea through.
2. Write Something Down
You should write about what interests you (because honestly, you'll be more likely to finish it). If you're excited about learning more about science, write a book about a scientific field that excites you; if you've always loved the Industrial Revolution, create a historical novel about living in 1800s England. The world is literally your oyster - the beautiful thing about writing a book is that it's your book. That means you can write about literally anything you want. Don't limit yourself because it "should" be a certain way; your unique perspective and voice are what make your book worth reading.
My Wisdom: Don't be afraid to get words on the page. This is one of my biggest hangups - I feel like it has to be good, because it's being written down. Not true: it just needs to be written down so you can keep moving forward.
3. Add Some Structure
Once you have a better idea about the story you're telling, start to organize it. What might your chapters look like? What are the key plot points? What are you main ideas or messages? I personally use spreadsheets to map it all out - who's in each chapter, what each chapter accomplishes. If you're writing non-fiction, this still applies! Hopefully by now you've started to narrow down what the subject of your book is, and what pieces might go into articulating it. Make an outline for yourself, as a roadmap for the rest of your writing.
My Wisdom: Write down all your ideas even if you don't use them. Just because something doesn't work for your current book doesn't mean it won't eventually be helpful down the road.
4. Write More. A Lot More.
Here's where you really dig into the process of writing. Crank out some chapters, delete some ideas which aren't going to work, and figure out how you get from the beginning to the end of the book. This is also where you produce the bulk of your first manuscript (!), which you'll then work to revise and build into your final book. Some people work with developmental editors during this time period, to help flesh out their ideas and plot. Others rely on friends or family for candid advice.
My Wisdom: Share your writing with people. You don't have to share all of it, but getting feedback early and often will make the editing process a lot easier.
Okay, this category is kind of a misnomer, because publishing is complicated. So complicated, in fact, that once I'm closer to releasing my book in December, I'm going to dive into all the various aspects that go into publishing in-depth. But this is the part where you decide to share your book with the world, then figure out how you're going to do it - whether with the help of an agent and a publisher, with a hybrid publishing house, or independently. All have their associated pros and cons, and that's a choice you'll need to make as the author.
My Wisdom: Don't worry about what people say, do what you're excited to do. If you want to take on the self-publishing journey, do it. This is your book, your paper cuts, tears, and frustrations, and only you have the right to decide what to do with it.
6. And Then Everything Else
There's an old saying in publishing - that writing the book is only half the work. The other half is selling it. It's true, and a huge amount of work comes after you've written your book - but give yourself a chance to write it before you start to stress about the next steps. Don't put expectations on yourself that you're going to write the next Harry Potter, instead, let yourself discover your own voice, and the story you have to tell. I know it's incredible.
There's a lot more - and I promise, I'm going to write more about it. You will go inside my journey and learn as I do. Some future posts I have planned include:
So stay tuned! Check in next week to see what's next :)
Bridget is the author of Summer Twilight, available for purchase now!