- 1 Get Engaged and Write a Book – Journey as a Writer
Get Engaged and Write a Book – Journey as a Writer
For a year I have not stopped repeating in all my articles: “I don’t write anything, I don’t have time to write.” It has been more than a year that, although I write from time to time, I have not finished anything that I start. And, in all this time I have realized one thing: if you want to write a book, you need to commit.
If you are taking your first steps in the world of: «I’m going to write a book», welcome to the jungle, we don’t have fun or games. I warn you that you will find gazillion courses on how to write a book and many other blog articles like this one about the same thing.
Although you will also find many articles on the number of writers that are left over, on what is not literature and on why you should stop writing and dedicate yourself to the game console.
All this mass of advice half Coelho, half Mr. Puterful, will leave you bruised.
There is a book in you
Thus, in the purest Pixar style, you will have read that we all carry a book in us. I am not saying that it is not like that, but not all books have to leave where they are or be read.
You can’t imagine the number of times they say to me that: «Are you a writer? Well, I have to tell you my life, because it gives for a book ». Error, your life does not give for a book, or for a prologue … Give yourself a song in your teeth if tomorrow gives you for an obituary.
Either way, I’m not interested in those kinds of stories. I have also lived and have fun, humiliating, exciting, dirty things … Like everyone else. Which does not mean that I will count / have them read.
A story should go beyond a biography spiced up with anecdotes that you have hunted in the subway or that you were told in the bar. A story must entertain, it must inspire, scare, amuse…
I put the shotgun aside already.
What I want to explain to you in this article is that writing a book takes a commitment. Forget what they have told you about how interesting your life is, they were just giving you a kick, ignore them.
My Journey As A Writer
I have already a few published books. My first Blackwood novel was in its fourth edition the last time I bothered to look at it. After her I published a couple of short novels La Carne y la Sangre and La Mano del Muerto . In addition to a zillion stories scattered here and there.
This path has not been easy, nor fun, nor glamorous. It’s been a fucking valley of tears.
I did not become a writer overnight. Before Blackwood: Skin and Bones I wrote a novel that will never see the light of day. I participated in hundreds of contests in which I was not even thanked and I worked for free in various magazines. In addition, I had several blogs in which I wrote and, since I did not work and had free time, I wrote a story a week easily.
My first novel was published when I had already managed to get my head into several compilations of horror stories. I had won and was a finalist in a few and, at that moment, it seems that the fairies smiled at me.
I do not keep good memories of that process. And if you read about how nice it is to start writing and discover for yourself the hosts that the publishing sector has prepared for you, it is that they are deceiving you.
Forget about the image of the glamorous writer, with his cat and his glass of whiskey. Change it to that of an English soldier at the muddy siege of the Somme, his eyes red from gas and his face stained with the blood and guts of his comrades fallen in the same trench.
Five years after that, every time I sit in front of the word processor I keep wondering where the hell did I get the energy and the will to write a novel and, more importantly, to face publishers.
Process And Procedure
Although reading this article may not seem like it, since then I have worked helping other writers. I have spoken with many and with people who wanted to embark on an adventure without being very clear about what this is all about.
Most of them do it with great enthusiasm and, after a few months, I see how they deflate. As they wander into this swamp, getting mosquito bites by the hundreds on Twitter and watching the creepy backs of successful aligators on Instagram, they lose that hope .
Social media is a big problem for writers. You know you shouldn’t do it, but you compare yourself, and during those dangerous moments when the impostor syndrome is at its strongest, that’s like burning yourself out.
I, who should be immunized against this syndrome by now, have bogged down. I have great stories waiting to be told, but I feel unable to finish anything I write … Do you know why? Because I am no longer engaged in writing.
I start with great enthusiasm, with great desire. I have good stories, great characters and my style, developed from pages and pages written on my blog. On the first day, I sit down and write 3,000 words at a stretch. Professional, very professional. The second day, hopefully I write about 1000 and the third I don’t even sit down to write.
From time to time I go back to that manuscript, scratch a bit, get excited and the next morning I pass everything.
The Commitment To Write A Book
As I have said above, the most important thing to write a book – in addition to knowing how to write and taking care of style – is commitment.
Looking back, I have realized that I am only able to finish my manuscripts when I am engaged. Not necessarily with the act of writing itself, but with something. With anything that is important to me.
Because, let’s be serious, you have to commit to something that matters to you. It is as if you decide to play sports for the sake of doing sports. It would be a stupid decision.
In my case, my commitments were different. Once it was trying to win a literary contest. Other times it was a compromise with my publisher. I have finished some manuscript just in the hope of making money from it. And I don’t feel bad for admitting it.
Francis Scott Fitzgerald (beware, I’m not trying to compare myself to him, who later fails our reading comprehension and we leave silly comments) wrote some of his best stories for the simple fact of making money. For example, the story The Back of the Camel was written to buy a white gold and diamond watch from Zelda.
If you really want to write a book, you will have to commit. You have no other choice.
Sorry I Have A Commitment
Every time I have finished a manuscript it has been because I had a commitment. When I have written for “love of art” I have always failed in the process and have ended up abandoning it.
Maybe it’s just that I’m lazy, I don’t know.
But I do know that every time I have written with a goal in mind, I have managed to finish my works. Starting with Blackwood: Skin and Bones that I wrote to submit to a novel contest.
Later I wrote La Carne y la Sangre and La Mano del Muerto out of commitment to Pulpture. They asked me for short novels, and in record time, I sat down and wrote them.
The same has happened with Our Mothers, another short novel that I wrote a little over two months ago for the same publisher. In this case, the commitment went beyond the publisher’s request. I needed to prove to myself that I could write some science fiction. And I did it.
My last written novel, Secretos de Familia (of which I will tell you things soon) I wrote it a little over a year ago. At that time my commitment was to show myself that I was capable of writing something again, after an almost total stop in writing for more than two years.
Write and be a writer
I guess you expected an article with X tips to write a book. Sorry, I’ll write that down when I run out of article ideas and have to keep posting at any cost.
The truth is that I could give you a lot of advice, but surely most would be bad. Do you write every day? Well, what if you can’t? What if you are too tired and you don’t feel like it? It is true that you have to write so as not to rust, but I find it stupid that you have to force yourself to write every day until you hate this.
That’s another writer mania: we give advice. The advice … Well, you know what they say: I give advice that I don’t have. I’ve already talked about bad advice a few times, and if I sit down and think about it, give me another article at least.
I don’t want to make you dizzy anymore. So I’ll just repeat what I’ve been telling you from the beginning. If you want to write a book you have to commit to something.
How Can You Commit To Writing?
Some writers I know have made a writing group. They meet every week and share what they have written with each other. I think it’s not a bad way to commit to writing. Somehow you force yourself to meet the deadlines.
Another way to get engaged is by paying for a mentoring or writing course. Yeah, yeah … But it is what it is. It’s like driving, there is no better way to raise awareness about the dangers of the road than to scratch your pocket recklessly.
If you pay for a mentor or a writing course that requires a chapter or a full text a week, you will commit, if only for the money you have spent.
Promises to be lost in these four walls
Like tears in the rain they will go away. Yes, I like The Pirates.
Commit to someone. I, for example, made a mental commitment (I never told him) with my partner that I would finish my first novel. It may sound silly to you, but I was going through a difficult time (without work for a long time and feeling totally useless). I made a commitment, to show myself that I was capable of finishing something. And I did it.
You can do it too.
Write One Letter After Another
I know I told you at the beginning that I do not write. That is not true either. I write daily (it’s my job) and I also write on this blog. Never, no matter how overwhelmed I am, no matter how far from writing I feel, have I ever thought about stopping writing. And when I have done it (there are them) something inside me has rebelled and forced me to continue ghost writing.
Why I continue to create content week after week, is because I am committed to my blog and writing on the Internet. I love it, I really enjoy writing blog posts. I do not get tired.
The ideal would be to find this point in my stories … Although the very ideal would be to win or win the lottery and be able to laugh at everyone from my yacht in the Greek islands, while enjoying a glass of Lagavulin.
If you want to write a book, you have to commit. I don’t know of a better advice, no shortcut, or any formula that allows you to do it. You must commit and work. Write, rest, review, drop and rewrite. There’s no more.