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One question I get asked often these days is how I write book after book. Or how did I develope the discipline to write all the time. To keep writing to the point where I’m publishing multiple books a year. Usually these questions come from fellow writers who are struggling.to either start a daily writing practice, or to start writing at all. That’s usually for one or two reasons.
- They don’t know how to get started writing their book
- They are afraid to fail at writing a book
- They aren’t sure what do if they do finish writing their book (or afraid of success)
Does that sound like you?
It sure was me for a long time.
I have always written. I earned myself a degree in creative writing because by the time I was supposed to go to college, the only thing I wanted to do was become a better writer. But when I finished that degree?
I couldn’t write anymore.
That degree I spent blood, sweat, tears, and years of my life earning weighed so heavily on my shoulders I could barely stand. I struggled to write a single sentence, let alone an entire freaking book like I dreamed of doing.
So I totally get it.
2013 me would have looked at 2020 me and been dumbfounded as to how she had gotten out of her own way and written enough words to publish four books in a year.
How did I become that person?
I had to slough off my fear that my writing was crap and allow myself to write crap.
Sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it?
But here’s the thing. I was putting so much pressure on myself to write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius because I had a fancy writing degree, and that meant I had to write serious literature, that I couldn’t sit down and write anything. By November 2014, I was so tired of feeling like a writing failure that I signed up for Nanowrimo and decided that no matter what happened, I would win.
This was probably an illogical time to do this. I was working a full-time job, was totally broke, and had a six-month-old baby who was already into everything. But the desire to write has always been a drive inside m that I could not ignore.
That November was exhausting and exhilarating. I had no plan except to hit my word count every day. But I told myself it didn’t matter what I wrote. As long as I wrote. If I ended up writing a romance so be it.
I totally ended up writing a romance. A genre that my creative writing program approached with crosses and holy water, but guess what? My favorite part of every story has always been the romance. And I have a fucking blast writing romance.
That romance turned into The Other Lane
The original story barely looks a thing like the fairy tale I wound up publishing in 2018. And that’s okay. Finishing that book–my first true novel–in 2014 was the best feeling in the world. Like, Marla, you finally found your place in the world, Congratulations.
Typing The End was magical.
It made all the revision that followed totally worth it because I had learned something vital. If I could stop doubting myself and allow myself space to put down one word after another, even if they were shitty as fuck, I could write a whole book. And that was all the motivation I needed to move forward.
I can write a book.
Say it with me. I can write a book.
Did you feel silly? Probably a little bit, but that’s okay. Silly isn’t bad.
Now, if you’re still with me, you’re probably thinking, That’s all well and good for you. Congrats on writing your book six years ago. How do I start writing my book today?
Don’t worry. I’ve got you.
5 Tips to Start Writing Your Book
- Write in a genre you enjoy reading. This is kind of a follow your heart moment. If you’re trying to write sci-fi because you think it will sell, but you are really into women’s friendship fiction, maybe consider starting with where your heart is rather than what you think you SHOULD be writing.
- Make writing dates with yourself. I would even go so far as to say make it romantic. Don’t stop at setting a regular time and date to write. Light a candle, pour yourself a glass of something decadent to drink. Pull yourself a Tarot card if you need to procrastinate. Take a shot of whiskey for courage (or your favorite non-alcoholic alternative. We support sobriety here.) And most importantly, write some words because you wanted to.
- Give yourself permission to write shitty words. Sometimes finding a way to describe the concept in your head is like giving birth. It’s messy and painful and you’re not feeling eloquent. That’s okay. Once the concept is out of your head, you can take time later to spiff it up. What is important is that you don’t not start because you’re afraid to fail in the first draft. There’s a reason they call it a first draft, got it?
The only failure in writing is not writing.
- Set a goal for yourself. You don’t have to nanowrimo it like I did. Though high-five if you want to. But choose a deadline, choose a daily/weekly wordcount, tell yourself you’re going to write three chapters this month. Just choose something to work toward. Set it. Meet it. Then set another. Meet that until you’re done.
- Find a community. My Instagram Author Fam is my life, y’all. They cheer me on, listen when I’m stuck and help me proof my blurbs (aka the worst party about being an author.) Not sure where to start? Hit me up on Instagram. I’m @marlaholtauthor Everyone deserves a cheerleader. I’ll be yours.
And never stop telling yourself that you can write your book. Every word you write gets you closer to THE END.
BONUS Tarot Card for Starting Your Journey
The Star, Reversed
Chances are, if you are reading this blog post. Something has shifted for you recently. Your foundations aren’t what the used to be. The Star is a card about healing from that transition. It’s about hope that we can be our own healer, but it’s also a card that reminds us that we have help available to us when we need it. All we have to do is ask. The reversed aspect of this card implies that there is a block that’s keeping your from taking that healing step, or perhaps from asking for the leg up that you need. What is stopping you from starting on your writing journey? Who could you ask for help to make it happen? Don’t be afraid. Not when the fulfillment you’re looking for starts with letting yourself embrace the power that allows you to write your book.