It may sound obvious, but it's so true! The best way to achieve your goal of writing a book is to write. If you don't then you will end up writing a book with no words in it and nobody will buy a book with no words in it except people who like buying books but hate reading (a growing market now that I think of it).
2 WHERE TO WRITE
When it comes to writing the three most important things are: location, location, location. Maeve Binchy likes to write in her kitchen whilst having dinner with friends; Samuel Beckett would only write in his favourite chair, which was made out of a giant corkscrew. John Grisham writes in a room.
3 WHEN TO START
There is only one time to start and that is Now! Unless of course you are being attacked by a mugger, or in court fighting for custody of your children - then my advice is to leave it for a day or two, when you'll have more time to concentrate on your book in hospital or in the empty house you used to call home.
4 GETTING STARTED
When you sit down at your desk for the first time in front of a blank piece of paper you face the question all writers (great and small) have faced through the ages: what is my target market? Answer this question and you're halfway there!
5 WRITER'S BLOCK
6 TIMETABLE (How Should I Divide Out My Time?)
If you want to write productively you must have a regular writing schedule to which you adhere strictly. Tea and lunch breaks must be factored in and you should put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door. Make sure that you put it on the right side of the door (the outside) or you could be stuck in the room indefinitely. If you have to share a room then you could put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on your back. However, no matter the preparation and intention, the best-laid plans can become unlaid. I have included a detailed breakdown of one of my writing days to give you some idea what I mean. I think reading this will give you a greater insight into what writing is really like than all the chats in the world with a drunken man about scrap metal.
6.1 A real working timetable:
7am: I enter my writing room and sit before a virgin sheet of white paper. I inhale deeply.
9am: I awake and wipe drool off the white, crumpled page.
9.01am: I take a deep breath and repeat my mantra: "I am a writer - here I go."
10-10.11am: I pull the sticker off my new biro and put it on my tea mug.
10.11-10.14am: Tell myself to "come on", "let's go" and "let's do it" while picking my nose with increasing urgency.
10.15-10.16am: Reiterate the need to "let's go".
10.16-10.23am: Go to the toilet and read old copy of Hello! magazine.
1.21-1.51pm: I decide to have a working lunch, but I get confused and eat my paper and five staples.
2.51-3.09pm: Go to the toilet and read the toilet roll.
4.51-4.55pm: I tell myself to "focus". I tie my shoelaces to the desk so I can't get up and make any more tea*.
4.55-5.05pm: I polish my pants. Now I'm ready!
5.09-5.35pm: I chew gum really fast in a desperate effort to make something happen.
6.05pm: I decide I am not a writer. I open a bottle of whiskey.
7.05pm: I open a second bottle of whiskey. Now I'm a writer!
(* Tea-making has been omitted from the above schedule because it would have taken up too much space.)
7 WHAT TO WRITE
Write about what you know. If more people did this then there would be a lot of books about nothing . . . and there are, so it must be sound advice!
8 WHAT TYPE OF BOOK SHOULD YOU WRITE?
There are as many types of book as there are kinds of books. I am not going to list all the types here although I will mention a few just to "get you going":
8.1 Autobiography - Despite the name, this book does not write itself. My advice is to do something with your life before you write one of these. Geri Halliwell is a good example of a bad example.
8.2 Self-help books - In a world where everybody needs as much help as they can get but don't want to admit it to anybody, this is a surefire money-spinner. One of my favourites is "Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Limerick". The book I am currently writing is a self-help book, called "How To Write A Book", which is very handy because whenever I get stuck at a particular point in my book I just refer to an earlier part of the book and I'm off again!
8.3 Sports books - Many of these are either biographies or autobiographies. If you wish to write an "official" biography, you will have to get permission from your subject. If this proves impossible then you may wish to write an "unofficial" biography. Later this year will see the controversial publication of the first-ever unofficial autobiography! It's written by Roy Keane and, according to Eamon Dunphy, the book is "a complete hatchet job" and Keane is "absolutely fuming with himself". Keane is so angry with the publication of this book that he has threatened to take himself to court.
8.4 Adult fantasy books - This is a very popular category. Writing a book and imagining that it has a chance in hell of getting published falls into this category.
8.5 Romance - Yes, even women have stopped believing in romance. They have dumped romance for chicklit. Gone are the days when women's lives revolved around "a man". Women are now independent human beings who sit in rooms all over the country chatting and laughing for hours with their friends about their sex lives with men, about looking for men, about finding men, getting over men, keeping men, and how men have become redundant in the 21st century.
8.6 Diet books - These do not work in the long run. I don't know why somebody doesn't publish a giant 10,000-page hardback diet book so at least people would lose a bit of weight picking it up.
9 GETTING PUBLISHED
This is a vastly overrated area of the whole writing-a-book thing - and I'm not just saying that because I have failed to generate any interest whatsoever in my own work.
10 SELF- PUBLISHING
One man who has successfully taken the self-publishing road is Michael Flatley with his autobiography, "I'm Great". Not only did he publish it himself but he also typed it himself, with his feet - 7,000 words per minute on a specially built typewriter the size of Croke Park. Now there's a big writing lesson for us all!
Kevin Gildea's book, "How to Write a Bestseller", is published by Kevin Gildea Press, price €13.99 (negotiable).
(lifted from © The Irish Times)