Hello all! I’m so very pleased to have Cate from Romance Debuts with me today on my blog. Cate has profiled numerous first-time and multi-published authors, and I’m so proud to have here here today to tell us all what she’s learned in her time as a romance blogger.
So then, without further ado … Cate, take it away!
7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing a Book
About six months ago I started Romance Debuts, a blog designed to help aspiring romance writers. I had resolved to finally move forward with at least one of my drafts and really give this romance writing thing “the old college try.”
Daunted by the process of writing and publishing a book, I wanted to track down writers who had gone through it for the first time to find out how they’d done it. Then I figured there were probably lots of other not-yet-published writers who’d like to know the same things.
That led to another thought. Newly published writers would probably appreciate another forum for connecting with readers. Thus, Romance Debuts was born: A place for not-yet-published writers to learn from published writers, and for those newly-published writers to build an audience.
After about 45 interviews with newly published and multi-published authors, including Kristan Higgins and Robyn Carr, I’ve picked up invaluable advice. Here are seven bits of wisdom that have emerged:
- If you want to be a writer, you have to write and learn the craft. The only way to get better at writing is to write. A lot. Many authors aim for daily word counts, some modest, others grand. The point is that you have to keep working on your stories. Without practice, you won’t improve. And that very first draft? It may never get published, but it will help you learn how to write a good story.
- The first draft is crappy for almost all of us. Even for bestselling authors. Kristan Higgins admitted that her first drafts are crappy, and Sonali Dev explained that she has to vomit out the first drafts of her books. Those two admissions made me feel so much better…not that I delight in other people’s pain or anything.
- You can find inspiration anywhere. I’m fascinated to learn what inspires an author’s book. For author Nancy Sartor, it was a voice she heard on her way to the bathroom in the middle of the night (creepy!). For Ryan Jo Summers it was a picture from a calendar that she held onto for years. For Marilyn Baxter it was a news article. It’s so important to keep your eyes and ears open and go where the muse takes you!
- You have to make time to write the book. There are so many things that battle for our time (the job, the kids, the pets, the house, etc.), but the authors who have published have figured out a way to make time for their books. Rebecca Brooks made finishing the book a birthday gift to herself. Taryn Taylor treats writing like a job; she reminds herself that she can’t flake out on work just because she doesn’t feel like doing it. Rachel Goodman writes in her head all day long. You do what you have to do.
- You need supportive people in your life. Those people can be writing friends, non-writing friends, or relatives who will read your stuff and give feedback. I love this quote from Nicole Leirin about her husband: “He knows that I have to write in order to keep some semblance of sanity in my brains, so he graciously sends me upstairs after dinner with the claim, ‘Time for you to write, isn’t it?’”
- Self-publishing is a great option for a lot of new writers. Many of the interviewees, including Veronica Bale, Jen Crane, Julie Cameron, Debi Matlack, Marian Lanouette, Melissa Rolka, Marina Adair, Juli Page Morgan, Margaret Locke, Adria Gaskins, and Jamie Farrell, have made a great case for self-publishing. For the right person, self-publishing really works.
- Life doesn’t change a whole lot after you publish a book. You just get busier. And the fear that you won’t be able to finish a book never goes away. I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse about the whole thing!
To glean more wisdom from newly and multi-published writers, visit romancedebuts.wordpress.com. You can also find me on Facebook at Romance Debuts and Twitter @romancedebs. And if you’ve published a book, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help you share your publishing experience and promote your debut!