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Plunge Into Your First Book-Are You Ready to Make a Big Splash?

Victoria A. Witkewitz

30  January 2023

Over the years I  have been approached by friends and colleagues that say, "I am ready to start my first book."  My reply is "terrific I'm looking forward to reading it."  However, nine times out of ten, my second response is, "are you ready?"

In this article, we'll discuss a high-level overview of mentally preparing yourself for the literary creation that is niggling at you and realistic expectations of what to anticipate during the writing process and upon completion.

Well, get your favorite pool toy and let's make some waves.


The mental prep

Before you start chapter one, there is a good possibility you have had an idea or two floating around your head like one of those cute flamingo rafts, but chances are you haven't fully shaped the idea on paper or computer.  This is certainly okay.  Finding mental preparedness is important and the first step necessary to watching your literary work come to life.



Quick tips before you make the commitment

1. Do you have time to write?  While this may seem like an obvious question, I often find the need to ask because writing a book requires ample time.  Not only do you have to prepare to write, but re-read, potentially re-draft ideas, and work to massage the text in a way that provides a seal of approval in your eyes.  
Prepare for roadblocks, while other times, words will flow like a trickling stream.  I have written books in three months, while others have taken years to complete.  The important aspect is to ensure you keep the main goal in sight.  Writer's blocks are a joy to be celebrated as they catapult you to the next bigger and better idea.  Sometimes taking a step back for a while is a good thing that helps put your writing into perspective.  This also gives you plenty of time to re-evaluate the flow of your story and work on any necessary changes as you see fit.
Do you have your main idea, characters, and plot identified?  Having a starting point to springboard your writing will guide you along the way.  Do not worry if your ideas are not fully developed.  As you start to write, you may thank yourself for a little leeway to remain open to expressing your ideas further and perhaps changing your original intent along the way.
Initiate a writing schedule to dedicate time to your project.  With the busy lives we lead, it is easy to get swept up in one activity after another.  In my experience, having a notebook and pen handy at all times helps me jot down ideas until I can get behind the computer to put them into action. I try to dedicate a few hours daily to writing, however, sometimes the best thoughts come at sporadic times.  
Create small goals for each milestone of your book.  If writing one page is all you have the creative energy for, then start there.  If you can set a chapter per week, go for it.  Every page written is one page closer to someone picking up your next book.  It is important to carve a little piece of victory with each word written knowing you are putting steps in place toward your ultimate end goal.
Be prepared to learn something new.  As an author and publisher, I learned many aspects of the writing process including style, editing, as well as short story writing.  This has exposed many of my strengths and weaknesses along the way.  Like any activity we learn, after trial and error, we begin to formulate a pearl of inner wisdom and intuition to improve our process.


Ideas Front and Center while writing

1. Keep your audience in mind.  Ask yourself who are you trying to reach with your book.  Who would buy this?  Is it suspense, horror, romantic, dramatic, or a combination of factors?  Ideally, identify your target audience as you write. This will help you understand how and whom to market when your book is complete.  Think of keywords someone would type in a search window to locate your book.
Should I force myself to write? What if the ideas are not coming?  Everyone is unique.  Some may enjoy plunging straight through writer's block while others take a step back.  Personally, I do not find forcing myself to write to be conducive.  For one, if I'm not in the writing mood, I tend to be unhappy with what I'm creating which will force me to go back and re-work anyway.  Therefore, during these times I pause and re-read what I have thus far and where I want to take my story.
What channels will I use for distribution?  Will you be writing for an audiobook, e-book, a physical copy of a book, or all three?  Certain channels have specific formats required for distribution.  For example, EPUB is a file extension utilized for certain e-book readers.
How do I want to publish?  Will I publish independently, utilize a traditional publishing house, or use hybrid publishing?  Research your options and ask questions.  In addition, reach out to other authors that have been through the publishing process to learn from their experiences.


Final Punctuation

Taking the first step to bring your creative process to life is a moment to be celebrated.  Keep in mind the journey is fluid and will be long and arduous, but I will tell you each and every time I feel the physical copy in hand it is a joyous accomplishment.  Like performing a cannonball, I can feel my smile from ear to ear and you will too.

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