Welcome to the first step in my seven-part series on writing a book that's ready to be published. After editing and re-editing this piece multiple times, my own inner editor has jumped in to offer you first a hearty welcome and to lay a little bit of groundwork for this seven-part series.
This, the blog you're reading right now, is by far the least prescriptive of all the blogs coming out in the next few weeks. It is an invitation to look at writing and creating in a different way and it's a chance for me to share a pattern I've seen in manuscripts I've edited and books I've read and authors whose lives I've loosely followed online and in print.
The second point I'd like to offer is that I am not a guru and I am not giving you seven exact steps to success. There is no guarantee that if you follow my advice that you will become a published author, and that's a very good thing for you to know. Because marketing and publishing "experts" are far too often rewarded by making you think that they have the golden ticket, the missing clue, to getting you published. But the reality is there is so much that must come from tremendously good luck when it comes to being a published author, and I would be misleading you if I made it sound easy or guaranteed.
What I can assure you of, however, is that the process of writing a book is a highly intuitive, worthwhile endeavor. Additionally, the practical techniques I suggest have been put to practice many times over, and whatever advice I have to offer draws on my educational or professional experience in writing, publishing or editing. What I offer are best practices, but don't take my word for it. Test what I offer and see for yourself if it works or not. Only you will know in your heart. And with that said ... let's jump right in to step one.
Step 1 of the writing a publishing-ready book is this:
Write your guts out, get messy and don’t stress about structure
Seems like simplistic, maybe even worthless, advice, right? The thing is, this first step is deceptively complex. The art of writing something worth reading can take years. Whether that’s years of re-writing, or years of observing and exploring the world around you. A book worth reading must be the byproduct of blood, sweat and tears. But here's the good news ... Whether you know it or not, you have an award-winning story living inside you. I know this because I know that all human beings are basically good and are capable of profound contributions. The hard part about writing a book, I've found, is getting past all the muck and mire that likes to float at the surface of ourselves (and what we think is “surely a bestseller”) and get to the heart of what we’re truly meant to create.