Thursday, July 2, 2009

One bite at a time

One question authors are often asked is “How did you get your start in publishing?” And if you pose that question to the 11 Novel Space authors here, you’ll get 11 different answers. Whether they’ve always wanted to be writers or stumbled into the profession, there is one constant in every story: you have to start somewhere.

My dad – a man with a quote for every occasion – has often said to me over the years, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” That holds true for writing as well.

There are all kinds of formulas for finishing a novel. A favorite of mine is that if you write one page a day, you’ll have 365 pages at the end of the year. That’s about 91,000 words; plenty for most publishers of novel-length fiction. You may even have to trim a few thousand words from your finished product.

I will tell you this: Thinking about a book won’t get it written. Wishing for a breakout story idea won’t improve our craft. Hoping for great sales won’t get you a publisher. Even after you’ve had the good fortune of landing your first contract and getting that first novel on the shelf, the work starts all over again for book #2.

Starting holds true for each paragraph, chapter, short story or novel. It’s something you learn to discipline yourself to do every day. There is no way around it. We all have to do begin.

Got an idea? Fire up your computer (or take your flash drive to the library and use theirs if you don’t have one). No clue how to plot? Join a writing group to hone your skills and learn more about the business of publishing. Whichever way you chose to launch your beginning, just do it. While fame and fortune aren’t promised on this path, if you don’t ever start, you can promise yourself there will never be a book, or sales, or your dream come true.

So get to it already: Uncover your motivation, feed your muse and start eating away at your dream one bite at a time.

8 comments:

Sonya Ward said...

I would like to applaud all of you for what you are doing with this blog. I think is awesome when people of "like mind" and spirit come together in a positive manner like this. It is refreshing and I wish you all much success! I support you 100% and will share your blog with others. God bless! - Sonya, President, Books and Beignets Book Club, Monroe, LA

Charles Gramlich said...

Welcome to the blogosphere. I know Shauna and Farrah. Look forward to learning more about every one else.

Phyllis Bourne said...

I eat away at my elephant with the kitchen timer - 30 timed minutes at a time.

Liane Spicer said...

Sonya, welcome and thank you!

Charles, great to meet you!

I've learned that the work does indeed start all over for book #2. Just this week I read an article where an author who had published 14 books was lamenting the fact that beginning each one was like the first all over again. She now tries telling herself that after 14 books she must have SOME idea of what she's doing. You're so right, Stefanie. Every book, every chapter, every day is a beginning, with all that it signifies.

Phyllis, your kitchen timer is a great idea!

Stefanie Worth said...

Sonya and Charles -- Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you'll be frequent visitors.

Phyllis -- Love that timer idea. That would be a great way to force my focus in the tight confines I sometimes have to work within.

Liane -- Speaking of the second novel, guess I'll head that way now. :)

Farrah Rochon said...

Very sage advice, Stefanie. People often ask me how I can write an entire novel, and I always answer "one word at a time." Whether they're flowing like warm honey or cold molasses, they still flow one word at a time.

Great seeing you hear, Dr. Gramlich (I will work the nerve to call you by your first name one day. For those who don't know, Dr. Gramlich entertained me with great stories of his son and taught me a great deal about Psychology as an undergrad).

Sonya, how wonderful to see another Louisiana face! What a great name for your book club! I love it!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I don't have the patience to write a book; but, learning how authors are motivated is inspiring. Applause and a bow to you all. It's funny; I have been told I write one hell of a letter; be it for business or a well deserved lashing out of my thoughts selected individuals - I am always truthful and concise. I have given writing thought and I was almost tempted to write about my drama-filled life; but no, right now I am simply blown away by my cousin. Stef - just keep your beginnings going, and if you ever need a plot - holla!

Stefanie Worth said...
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