Saturday, January 8, 2022

Starting the monumental task of writing a book

Just this morning I was placing my stuffed animal frog on my bed when an idea for a children's picture book 'hopped' into my mind. My first thought was, "This is incredible! I have to write this down before I forget!" 

I ran to my computer and wrote the title and the short synopsis that came to me on a sticky note. It is hanging up right here where I sit and write.

Now comes the hard part. I've got to write it.

What should I do first? 

I have learned through the years the time of reflection should not be hurried. The reflection time is sort of my idea-gathering time. It's the time when  I consider the different ways the story might travel. Though I am a by the seat of my pants sort of author, I always have some idea of where I want my story to travel. And this idea takes me to the next step.

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

Writing the first draft. Please think of this time as the time to let your thoughts and feelings come through your fingertips and onto the page. This is not the time to edit. I HAVE TO REMEMBER THIS EVERY TIME I WRITE SOMETHING. Stop. Do not edit. Keep writing. Remember, stop. Stop. The first draft is kind of like living a fantasy life where you get to do anything and everything you want. The idea is to get your story out, not to block this time with whispers of fixing things. Give yourself some time with this. Don't hurry it. Spend as much time as you need.

The second draft will be up for view before you know it, and especially with picture books, it's important to make every word count. 

Photo by Duy Thanh Nguyen 

Photo by howling red 

This is the time to take out the words that do not contribute to the overall story. This is the time to correct run-on sentences. This is the time to look at the meat of the story. What are you trying to tell your reader? What do you expect them to learn without spelling it out?

Photo by chris liu on Unsplash

The final draft can be your third, fourth, or even your fifth draft. This is when you make sure your spelling is correct, your beginning is superb, and your ending is just as it should be. 

During the stages of writing a book, no matter what genre of book it is, I am thinking of the cover and what I want my future reader to know about the book even before they've flipped through a few pages or read the back cover. I start thinking of an illustrator. For my fiction books, I usually buy a stock photo that can be turned into a cover. 

Writing a book is a little like living a life where changes ultimately will need to be made. You might even want to consider your life. What changes have you made to make your life better? You can walk the same path with your book. 

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