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I Want To Write A Book – Where Do I Start?

Written by: Maria Koropecky, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Do you remember the song by the Beatles, Paperback Writer? Have you ever wondered what Billy Joel means by “Real Estate novelist” in his song, the Piano Man? Has written a book been a lifelong dream for you but you just haven’t written anything yet?


Many people (about 80% of Americans) have wanted to write and publish a book — but fewer

than 0.1% have actually done it.

If you think you have a book inside you, take these steps to get the ballpoint pen rolling:


1. Keep a notebook or take photos of things that inspire you


When I was in my twenties living in Europe, I carried a little notebook around with me to capture all of those little thoughts that sprung up in my head in the moment as they occurred to me. Later on, if I was stuck on a writing project, I flipped through the pages of my book and got re-inspired really quickly. Now that technology has advanced, these days, I collect my ideas on Pinterest.


2. Find your “big idea”


It’s difficult to write a novel without having a story idea first.

  • If you have an idea that you’re excited about, please do yourself a favour and dive into it right away because the longer you wait, the less you’ll remember.

  • If you’re stuck, ask yourself questions like: What do I really want to write about? What kinds of stories do I like to read? What’s important to me? What interests me? What inspires me?

3. Research your genre


Knowing your genre from the get-go will save you tons of confusion later as you shop your book around for a publisher. Is your story fiction (like Young Adult, Sci-Fi, or Magical Realism) or non-fiction (like memoirs, travel guides, or cookbooks)?


Without knowing the genre, booksellers won’t know where to put your book and therefore it will be harder to find your readers. Also, each genre has its own conventions, (which avid readers expect) so make sure you include them along the way as you write as well.


4. Create an outline of the plot


If you’re someone who likes to know where you’re going when you jump into the car for a road trip, having the outline can be a helpful road map. Of course, others just play it by ear and like to see where the road takes them. I wrote my first book from my head but when I outlined my second book at the early stages of writing with important plot beats, the pressure lifted and I now I am able to write more freely.


5. Follow a published author’s lead


When I sat down to write the first novel of my Donna Tiva series, I didn’t know how to open the story. I remembered the first line in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851) "Call me Ishmael" and then I noticed that other books also started with a character’s name.


Using my main character’s name helped me put something on the page and gave me some understanding of my character, but eventually, I wrote a better scene as an introduction. If you don’t like starting with a name, you can also look at other opening lines of novels and see if their words give you something to work with (without copying, of course) and then write a paragraph that will grab your reader’s attention right off the hop.


6. Use writing prompts


A few years before my father passed away, I gave him a book called Once Upon a Lifetime that includes 1001 questions he could answer in the hopes of encouraging him to write his memoir. Writing prompts, which you can easily find online, can really get the creative juices flowing.

  • Here’s question number 532 from the book above: “Did you [or your character] receive any special honors or awards?”

  • Here’s a topic that I give at my How To Overcome Writer’s Blocks with Gifts from Mother Nature workshops: write about a piece of jewelry.

  • Here’s a jump off sentence: “At the age of twenty-eight, Dr. Juvenal Urbino had been the most desirable of bachelors. He had returned from a long stay in Paris, where he had completed advanced studies in medicine and surgery, and from the time he set foot on solid ground he gave overwhelming indications that he had not wasted a minute of his time.” Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, page 105 – the novel I’m currently reading.


7. Write with the reader in mind


By all means, when you’re writing your first draft, let yourself go off on tangents because who knows where they may lead. However, once your story starts taking shape, read every sentence and ask yourself, “Does the reader need to know this?”


As Kurt Vonnegut said, “Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.” To avoid knocking your reader out of the narrative, make sure each one of your sentences serves a purpose and isn’t just your own ramblings.


8. Set word count or time goals


At the beginning of each writing session, make a note of your current word count and see if you can add another 500 words or so. Alternatively, give yourself an hour and see what you can write in that time. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your words and pages grow. I’ve made tremendous progress writing just a few paragraphs each day.


9. Establish a writing routine


Having a writing routine is just like working out at the gym. Writing is not just a one and done. You have to build the muscles and the habit over time. When I first started writing my novel in the months before the pandemic struck, I had a great writing routine. I woke up every day at 6:00 am, made some coffee, went to the kitchen table and wrote till about 8:00 am before getting ready for my day job. In six months, I had written over 300 typed pages!


10. Set up a writing space


Having a designated writing space is super important because that way, you can easily pick up your project where you left off without having to look for, or rearrange, all of your props. I personally like to have just the essentials within arms’ reach – things like reference books, journals, pens, crystals, and snacks, and ideally, I prefer a calm, quiet and clear area to hustle, bustle and clutter. Sometimes I listen to ambient music to tune out distractions, other times I put essential oils in my diffuser to clear the air. I also like to sit at a big table in a room with ample light.


11. Practice self-care


Something happens when we tell our story. First, it may stir up emotional stuff but then, writing our story and expressing ourselves can also be very healing. When writing something difficult, make sure you take time for yourself between writing sessions and give yourself some nurturing self-care. Self-care is the antidote to emotional upheaval and it’s another form of creativity. Do whatever you like – maybe it’s getting a massage, maybe it’s going dancing, maybe it’s drinking a cup of tea. Whatever you do, acknowledge your progress and enjoy!


12. Work with a writing coach


Working with a coach can shave years off your finish date. As a Creative Writing Coach, I help writers and storytellers discover their own gold, breakthrough writer’s blocks and write the book they’ve always dreamed of writing so they can leave a legacy.


I have a wonderful coaching program called, “The Spiritual Practice of Creative Writing: How the Energy of Colours, Chakras and Crystals Can Help Light the Way” and it’s designed to help writers establish a crystal clear vision for their book, raise their vibe to open the creative channel, and write with flow.


Book a call with me here to explore your options and next steps. I’d love to help you on your writing journey!


And whatever you do, keep writing!


Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Maria Koropecky, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Maria Koropecky is many things: a Creative Writing Coach, Author, Writer, Storyteller, and Crystal Mapper.


She is well aware that 81% of all people want to write a book someday and, as a result, has set out to build a creative writing coaching business that is geared towards helping writers, artists, and introverts discover their own gold, breakthrough writer's blocks, and write the book they've always dreamed of writing so that they can leave a legacy.


Maria's own forthcoming novel, Who is Donna Tiva, the first book in a trilogy, was inspired during her solo backpacking trip across Spain at 50. It follows the journey of a single woman as she searches for love, her life being lit up and guided by the colorful characters she meets along the way.


Maria feels confident she can help other people in the world, who have also gone on an adventure of a lifetime, to write and share their stories with others.


Maria also has a wealth of qualifications that inform what she does, ranging from an Honours BA in English Literature to certifications in Life Coaching & Mentoring, to Spa Therapy as well as Crystal Reading.


Her mission is to encourage new voices to enter the arena.

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