I meet many aspiring writers who want to jump right in and write a book. They have little experience, but they have an idea. They start typing away. Most give up soon and a few finishes. And those who do complete their journey, the result is seldom noteworthy.
Why is that?
The answer is simple. They weren’t ready to write a book. As the saying goes, you need to walk before you run. But you need to crawl before you walk. There’s an order to things.
Few people would decide on a whim to go out and run a marathon. They would not likely finish, and if they did, they could injure themselves. Plus, their time would be bad, really bad. No, they would condition themselves first, get in shape, practice, and gain experience at shorter distances.
The same holds true when writing books. We need to practice; we need to gain experience with shorter word counts.
For most successful writers, their first book didn’t sell. Or there second. Many times I’ve heard of published authors who wrote five books before they wrote one someone would publish. That’s a lot of work and many years of wasted time.
Instead, aspiring book authors should start out writing shorter pieces. That’s an easy way to learn what works and what doesn’t, to find our voice, and to hone our skills. If a piece fails, we have little time invested in it. If it succeeds, we have a quick victory to celebrate. Plus, we can easily see our improvement from one piece to the next.
So, if we want to write a fiction book, we should start by writing short stories or flash fiction. If we want to write a nonfiction book, start with blogging, articles, or personal essays. Memoirs tap the skills of both fiction and nonfiction writing, so we can develop our memoir writing skills with flash fiction and blogging.
Before we write a book, we should practice first, writing shorter pieces to gain experience and develop our skills. Then, once we’ve put in the needed training, we will be ready to write our book.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.