I truly believe that everyone has a book inside of them, a story they want to tell. The trick is getting those ideas, those concepts, to paper in an interesting and organized fashion that is easy to read. I cannot tell you how often I’ve been talking with someone and when they learn that I’ve written a book, their immediate response is, “I always wanted to write a book. I just don’t know how or where to start.”
Getting over this stumbling block can be tricky but if one approaches it knowing that all writers face that block and the only way over it is to go one step at a time then it suddenly becomes more manageable.
There are things in life that are predictable. The writing process is one of them. In order to have a finished product that we can take to publication we must go through the phases; pre-writing, writing, editing, publishing.
This is the stage that may vary the most. This is the birthing of an idea. This is where many of us can get so caught up in the brainstorming of ideas that are pinging back and forth in our brains, that we become overwhelmed and give up before we even begin.
This is when it’s essential to discover which type of author you are- the one who uses an outline, or the one who doesn’t.
For some, an outline is simply a few pages of jotted down notes that describe their characters, the setting, the lessons or emotional journey that will illustrate the character arc. Others need a more formal outline that lays out the whole story and breaks down each chapter so that it’s more organized and clears the path to fill out the rest of the story. Then there are writers like me who’s stories unfold very organically; no outline or chapter layout. Sometimes all I have is a strong sense of the characters’ personalities and maybe a few key scenes then I’ll build the story around that. There are many times when I sit at the computer and have no idea what I’m about to write. I just sit down, take a deep breath, and try to tap into whatever emotion I want to convey with my character at that moment. Then the story is born out of that.
Creating a very basic timeline is also key. Know when your story begins and when it ends and keep track of everything in between. This helps keep continuity issues down to a minimum.
No matter how you organize your thoughts in this process, what is absolutely necessary is that when you have a thought, an idea, an emotion, whatever, you write it down and give it life right away before it is lost. Even if you toss it and never use it again, give it the respect of writing it down because otherwise it’s never a reality. It’s just a thought.