Conversations about my writing usually go something like this:
“How is your book going?”
“When will it be published?”
“It’s a work in progress,” I usually say with a sigh.
And it is. Compiling a book of any kind takes months or, more often than not, years of work. For instance, the drafts of some poems in my upcoming collection were written my junior year of high school. It’s taken me a couple years to compile a short fifty-page anthology. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s been seven years since George R. R. Martin released a new seven hundred page novel in the series A Song of Ice and Fire.
If you’re working on a book, I hope I’ll be able to save you some time with these tips:
This is an obvious tip, but I ask you to truly think about this one; you are not going to get a book done if you don’t sit down, gather your courage and discipline, and write. I know that you would love if your ideas could magically manifest into a book– trust me, I would too. But alas, it’s not possible. To quote Hamilton, the only way to pen down a book is to “write your way out.”
2. Be open to revisions.
Revise as you go. Revise when you look back. Anticipate future revisions. Save different drafts in various Word documents so that you don’t feel attached to a way you wrote something. It’s likely you have already fallen in love with your own words, but if you are open to changing them, you are open to improvement.
3. Find yourself a mentor.
You need an experienced writer to look over your work, offer advice, and critique your work constructively. Let your mentor mark up your pages and give you ideas you would have never thought before. Whether it be a professor, editor, or friend, you will not regret doing so. In Judaism, every person is encouraged to have a mashpia— a mentor who helps through both good and bad times in your life. I would argue that a writer is in crucial need of such a person.
4. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Writers write based on experience. While writing poetry, this is especially true, and also especially difficult, but don’t be afraid to do it. To publish is to allow a stranger to hold your words in their hands, and you have to write as if you trust the public to cradle your emotions. Write as if you know your words will be honored.
5. Keep your book’s formatting and readability in mind.
Your readers trust you to give them information they can easily read– that is, don’t fill up pages with uninterrupted, long, single paragraphs. Instead, break up your characters and your dialogue so that your pages are visually appealing. When in comes to poetry, make sure that your line breaks are purposeful and engaging. Doing this will make your book a real “page turner.”
6. Read writers you admire.
If you admire/love certain writers, read their books to inspire your own work! Writing is a lot like mimicry; we imitate our favorite writers to the point where we create our own special worlds. In turn, our words inspire our readers, and the cycle continues.
If you have any questions, feel free to visit the Contact page. Also, if you’re currently working on a book, feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
Good luck, and happy writing!