The Heroine's Journey - Writing A Book
Writing any book requires a level of patience and dedication that not every body is willing to stick to. It's why roughly 81% of people WANT to write a book, but only 1% ever actually do it.
The reasons people get stuck when it comes to writing a book are varied, but it usually comes down to this: They don't really want to.
We could spend an entire book going into every reason out there and how it boils down to this common denominator, but I won't waste your time. Suffice it to say, they don't want to write a book badly enough to get them past whatever reason they have for not writing one.
And that's fine. There are still thousands of books published every month (just to give you an idea how many actually get finished).
So, what does the Heroine's Journey actually encompass?
Before you write, you need an idea, a whiff of a story, even a single scene to build off of. I know all I had was a movie I'd watched (Red Dawn, the new one) where I thought it seemed way too...reduced.
So I decided to write a book where people did it the way country folks would, and be absolute pains in the asses to their invaders. It was just a scene or two that snowballed into a rather large book. And then a second book. There will be a third in a year or two.
The idea is that you don't have to have a fully fleshed out story before you begin. A basic concept will do.
This applies to both fiction and non-fiction. Regarding non-fiction, know what subject you'd like to write about. It usually encompasses what you do for work, or a life's passion that you've learned about.
Writing doesn't have to be this frozen wasteland that you leaves you standing there, unsure where to go or how to start.
Do you have an audience you're writing to? Are there people interested in what you have to write about?
I had clients who co-authored a book on relationships. While neither of them coach in it, they did consult a coach who specializes in intimacy. However, they primarily drew on their own experiences. Both of them have been divorced and have gone through the dating scene twice. They've since remarried.
The thing is, before they got married, they created a contract, then they and several of their friends, signed it. It was an agreement to approach dating and men a certain way to ensure they didn't just go with the first rush of emotions.
All of those women are now married or have been in long-term relationships - think 8+ years.
Over the years, they've handed this contract out to quite a few women. Knowing they had an audience, and an interested one, they reached out to me, looking for help turning their contract into a book.
So, do your research and make sure people want to hear what you have to say.
For fiction writers, it's more about picking a genre, but even that is a bit more fuzzy. There are authors who make a good living writing for 1 or 2 genres and they have a dedicated following. However, you can also go off the reservation.
You can write a story any damn way you want, as long as you do it with confidence.
Plotting or Pantsing
When it comes to writing it down, there are 2 main ways to go about it: Plotting or pantsing.
If you ever hear a writer or aspiring writer talking about how you 'have' to write a book, they're usually talking about plotting. This is deciding ahead of time exactly what will be in your book.
You know what each chapter will be, and you have 3 or 4 points to mention in each chapter, and 5-6 sub-points. The whole thing is mapped out with an outline so that all you have to do it go down the list and make sure each one ends up in the right chapter.
This method works pretty well for both, and there are authors of both fiction and non-fiction who love plotting.
I use this method with all ghostwriting collaborations so that the author has the final say on what makes it into their book. It's simply a very neat way to lay out the book.
I believe this method works best with fiction, although you could use it for non-fiction if you really know your subject matter.
This is what I use for my fiction novels, and it goes like this, "I know vaguely where I'm starting, I know roughly where I'm ending and I haven't got a fucking clue what goes on in the middle."
Thus, you have pantsing, otherwise known as 'Flying by the seat of your pants'.
You start at the beginning of the book and work your way through it. I can, and have, gotten ideas for scenes later in the book and you can bet your ass I wrote them down while I remembered them.
The thing with pantsing is that later scenes will likely change.
I had a scene I'd written 3 or so years ago, set in Book 2 of my series, The Northwest Uprising. Problem is, by the time my characters actually got to that point, they way they would have reacted had changed drastically. Not completely, but enough that I had to do an entire rewrite of this 10 page scene.
So if you do that, just be prepared to adjust things for it to properly fit into the rest of your story.
The Mongrel Combination
While plotting and pantsing are completely different styles of writing a book, I've begun doing a combination of the two.
This is strictly within ghosting partnerships, and it goes a little like this: We created an outline, my clients approved it, and then I wrote the book according to the outline.
Except the book was too short, maybe 33k words.
I knew there was tons more information in the interviews, but for some reason, following the outline meant that ALL I had were the bare bones. So then I thoroughly read each interview corresponding the the chapter (making it the 50th or so times) and immediately after, I went through the chapter again. Doing that, I pantsed my way through, 1 chapter at a time, and filled in the details, finding a few that I'd missed the first time because those bullet points didn't quite cover it.
The end result? A manuscript of 57k words.
Do what works for you and ignore the bastards who try to tell you how you 'should' write a book.
I've run across people saying you 'should' (there it is again!) write 1,000+ words a day.
I call bullshit.
I rarely write that many words a day on my own work, especially if it's the first draft. I've found it's way more important to write consistently.
In the beginning, I tried writing a lot of words a day, and what would happen is that I didn't have the inspiration to write that many words. So I might write 2k and then not touch my book for 2 weeks.
It just doesn't work. Set a smaller goal, preferably a timed one, and go to town on that. It gives you that warm glow because you can always reach your goal, and you'll often go over it, which makes you feel better.
If I count all my drafts (because I get a blank doc and rewrite these puppies) then I've written over half a million words in the last 4 years using this method.
What About Writer's Block?
I do run across people saying they just can't write, they've got writer's block. I have something to say to that.
Ever since I began writing daily, I've never been plagued with writer's block. As a matter of fact, 9 times out of 10, I have no idea what I'm going to write at all until it comes out.
Sometimes, I write a scene, read it a day later and decide it's shit, so I rewrite the whole thing, but I haven't been stumped on what to write since I began writing daily.
One of my favorite author's, Sir Terry Pratchett, had this to say about writer's block:
There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write.
I'm inclined to agree with him.
If you find yourself sitting in front of a blank screen because you can't come up with some 1k word scene, don't start with that. Start with a sentence. Then another sentence.
If it's shit, that's what editing is for.
Nearly At the End, Now
If you're still not sure where or how to begin, contact me. I will work with people as a writing and accountability consultant. You can reach me through this website, no worries.
If you know you want to write a book but you're self-aware enough to know you don't have the writing chops for it and you have no interest in learning them, contact me.
Hell, check out the Work With Me page, link at the top of the screen. There are options to writing a book that don't force you to sit down at a keyboard yourself.
Maybe it's time to explore those options.