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“How to Write” Advice Only Takes You So Far

When you think about finishing your book, what are the challenges that come to mind? 

I’ll hazard a guess that some of the questions that come immediately to mind are along these lines:

  • Am I creating a compelling character in my protagonist so that a reader will want to spend 300 pages with them?
  • How do I structure this thing??
  • How much backstory do I include and how do I work it in?
  • Do my poems have to be all on the same theme in order to come together as a book, or can I mix things up? And if I do mix themes in one collection, how then do I shape the book into a coherent whole?
  • Everyone says “show, don’t tell” but how will I know when I have the balance right?
  • I’m writing a book based on true events that really happened, so how do I tell a story that respects other people’s experiences? (And am I even allowed to tell this story?)

What all of these questions have in common is that they’re all about the craft of writing. And that’s what we tend to think the process of writing a book is all about: craft. 

But the truth is that craft is only part of the equation.

In my opinion, at the first draft stage craft is not even the most important component of the book-writing process.

Wait, what??

I get it: this seems counterintuitive. And of course writing craft does matter, it just doesn’t matter as much as some other key elements in the process at the first draft stage.

So what does matter most when you’re trying to finish a book? 

1. Structure

You have to treat writing your book like a project, and structure your time accordingly.

2. Accountability

You need a way to build accountability into the book-completion process so that you increase your chances of writing this week (and every week!) even when you really would rather not.

3. Community

It’s true we’re alone with the page, but we don’t have to be alone with the process of writing a book. However you decide to build community into your book-writing process, this is absolutely key.

4. Coaching

You’re going to get stuck at some point…it’s just what happens. And when you do, you need someone who can raise questions you didn’t know to ask and provide advice on how to tackle the issue(s) that arise, and help you with the motivation to just keep writing all the way to the end.

5. Craft

Okay, yes, you need some craft too — guidance and advice on how to make the book you’re writing even better. But without the other 4 elements, craft alone won’t get you to the finish line.

Please don’t get me wrong here: of course you need to know how to improve your writing skills and how to overcome the craft challenges that your particular book will throw up for you. But if you think that writing your book is ALL about figuring out the craft, you’re dead wrong — especially in the first draft stage of the book-writing process.

I know these are the key components based on my own experience, but also the feedback I’ve received from the writers I’ve worked with over the years — including the amazing group of writers who’ve joined my First Book Finish program. 

 

FREE LIVE TRAINING

If you’re interested in finally finishing your book before the last sands drop in the hourglass for 2020, you absolutely CAN! I’m hosting some free live training sessions next week on 3 Key Secrets of Published Writers: How to Finally Finish Your Book in 3 Months or Less…without all the anxiety, doubts and self-sabotage. Join me and let’s talk about what it really takes to get it done and how it can be sooo much easier than you think.

Why “How to Write” Advice Isn’t Enough