And finally… The book

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you know what I’ve been working on for the last four months: outlining my book, writing a book proposal and query letter, choosing agents to approach, applying to writers’ colonies, learning about blog book tours, and then some.

I’ve also, believe it or not, written some of the book itself. So far, I’ve got rough drafts of nearly three full chapters, plus many pieces of chapters. But it seems like every time I sit down to put words on paper, some other distraction gets in the way, either one of the tasks mentioned above or another life responsibility.

It takes time to write, I keep telling myself. I’m new at this, so it’s going to move slowly. And those other tasks are just as important as the book itself.

But then I stumbled upon an online interview for Poets & Writers, where Peter Steinberg of The Steinberg Agency threw this on the table:

“I think sometimes writers get lost in getting the cover letter and the synopsis and those kinds of professional things right because they’re afraid of focusing on the work,” he said.

That’s when it hit me. I’m procrastinating because I’m scared to write the book! I know I’m good at organizing, at learning new skills and creating support materials. But I don’t know whether I’ll produce quality chapters.

The first book is scary for every writer, right? (This is where you chime in with sympathetic nods.) I’ve just gotta put my nose to the grind and write.

Just write.

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16 Responses

  1. Good you had this epiphany – without the book, all the other stuff is for naught. And when all the other stuff kicks in to start paying off, it’d better be a darn good book. So yes, while you MUST do all those things, writing the book is always your primary focus. I can relate to what you are experiencing because I went through the very same cycle. What works for me is, I set up a daily regimen schedule. Certain hours of the day are set aside for my WIP’s attention only. Turn off the internet (except for maybe the online Dictionary/Thesaurus – one of my most essential tools) and the cell phone and just write.

  2. Hi Alexis,
    So glad you had this awareness. I guess I just assumed you’d already written the book. Now that you had the insight that you are procastinating out of fear of not producing something good, you can move forward. We all have inner voices, inner critics, inner editors, whatever, that pop up, especially when we’re doing something extremely important to us. My advice is to pay attention so that you can recognize that voice when it emerges, tell it to be quiet, and keep writing.

    You know, your blog title, “Aspiring Writer,” doesn’t suit you, Alexis. As a journalist, you are a published writer. You just haven’t written and published a book yet. But you are most definately a writer, and a good one at that. Try not to worry about the quality of the work you are currently writing, and just say what you want to say about your experiences in Africa. You can hone it in the editing process.

    Blessings,
    Karen
    http://www.karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com

    • Karen,

      Yup, I’m in the anomaly in the class because I’m still writing my book. I just got started four months ago, and while I’m making progress, I’ve got a lot to go.

      Thanks for all the advice!
      Alexis

  3. Hi, Alexis, Well, yeah. Gotta write. But, I’m curious as to why you’d be, “scared to write the book!” What’s with that??? You? Scared? Sorry, but, that’s hard to follow.

    Look at your accomplishments, both writing (professionally, I might add) and your courage in not just traveling as a woman alone in a foreign country, but, backpacking that country! So, Sister, guts and skill you have in abundance. Put those ingredients in a bottle, shake well, and out pops a quality potion.
    Look again your premise. If it’s really fear, in my view, it’s without basis. If it’s not fear; find the real cause and root it out. You have too much to say, and too much skill NOT to speak out–boldly.

    Best Regards, Galen
    http://www.galenkindley.com

  4. Karen perfectly summed up what I was thinking, Alexis. Writing first drafts of any book is scary. And sometimes writing the second draft is, too. Editing takes care of all the imperfections–but the framework, the book itself, has to be there first before the tweaking can happen. Best of luck with it!

    Elizabeth
    http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/

  5. AND, by the way, I agree with Karen, but was too shy to say anything about it for fear of offending.

    Maybe you should rethink the Aspiring part of your title. Part of the blog I wrote the other day about being an Author, simply not published…was directed toward you.

    I think you’re selling yourself short with the Aspiring, handle, and worse, maybe sending the wrong message to the folks you want to connect with…the publishing industry.

    Not being critical, just sayin’…

    Best Regards, Galen.

  6. Thanks for the thoughts, friends! After a few years in a newsroom, having my work torn to shreds by editors, I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to this stuff, so never worry about offending me!

    I’m glad you brought this up because I never would have thought of it. Yes, I consider myself an accomplished writer and journalist, but will still see myself “aspiring” as an author until my book is published. But there’s always a better way to spin things, and it sounds like I need to work on spinning my blog title better. I’ll work on coming up with something better! And if you all have any suggestions, please send them my way.

    Thanks!

  7. I’m so with you on this one. I’m working on my first novel and I’ll do anything to avoid the actual writing some days. My apartment has never been so clean.

  8. I find every book scary, at least at the beginning. That’s why I do so much of the writing in my head before I sit down at the computer and let the words flow to the keyboard. Sounds like you’re doing a lot of that mental writing as well. It’s not bad. It’s not wrong. And it may or may not have anything to do with fear. Do it your way.

    Patricia
    http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com

  9. For myself, somedays I avoid writing because I’m afraid that I might lose my way and it will all sound like, “blah blah blah” without any form or substance. Sometimes I tell myself that’s okay and I slog through 1,000 words, knowing I’ll delete 999 of them. Sometimes I spend the time reading through what I’ve written and by the time I get to the last stopping point, I know where I’m going again. Sometimes I just turn to Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio and call it a day.

    Believe in your heart that you will accomplish it, just like you accomplished your trip – step by step.

    Good luck.

    Gayle
    http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com

  10. My mantra is “Write it bad, write it bad, write it bad”. Shitty First Drafts.

    Doesn’t matter how bad it is, as long as you get it down…..because then all you have to do it EDIT, and I know you love the editing!

    Elle Parker
    http://elleparkerbooks.blogspot.com/

  11. I think you are definitely on the right path. I think where the “fear” factor comes in is this is YOUR baby, your story – it is a piece of you and it feels like exposing a piece of your soul or something. It is scary stuff, this vulnerability. You’re doing fine. I can tell by the blogs, the tweets, the comments. You’ve got all the right stuff. Take deep breaths, baby steps, put you butt in the chair and write baby. You’re doing fine. 🙂

    NA Sharpe
    http://nasharpe.blogspot.com

  12. I actually wrote the book first before I prepared other stuff. If you concentrate on writing the scenes, rather than thinking about the book, then the writing will become less daunting.

    In Quest of Theta Magic

  13. […] But that’s changed, and now I’m really making progress on the manuscript. Admittedly, I should have spent more time writing all along, but I don’t regret researching the industry. As a result of that research, […]

  14. First and foremost – Write! You can’t sell or market what you haven’t written. Keep to your writing schedule, whatever it is, and then -and only then- explore the other options.

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