Is Writing a Book on Your Bucket List?
It’s said to be one of the most common items on a bucket list – I want to write a book! Men, women, young and old, from all different backgrounds, this is one thing we seem drawn to do.
Writing a book gives us the opportunity to leave a legacy of knowledge, inspiration, or call for change in the world.
Once upon a time, the only people who could read and write were the monks who officiated as scribes. It was a good way to ensure that God’s Word was kept sacred and only shared by those considered holy enough to do so properly. Therefore, keeping the recording of knowledge and thoughts was left to only the highest officials in the land, and their scribes. This was an accepted part of life, and women were sadly under-educated throughout the ages.
However, storytelling throughout history has always been a powerful way to ensure traditions, history, and ideas were woven into our lifestyles. Indigenous cultures have used storytelling to pass on their culture for tens of thousands of years.
Slowly over time, things have changed, and owning a book – let alone knowing what to do with one – is no longer a sign of wealth or privilege. We are currently enjoying a digital age where it is now easier than ever for someone to write and publish a book. And women are stepping up in droves to share wisdom, experience, and ideas. However, we are still radically under-represented in terms of world literary lists. Take for example the 2017 VIDA – Women in Literary Arts list that shows an average dropping to below 40% of rated books were by women that year.
What holds us back?
Some would argue we are busier than ever, or that there’s too much information already out there so why bother adding to the ever-increasing pile of it online. One thing that frequently gets mentioned by people who want to write, is that they really don’t know where to start, or how to do it well. Perfectionism is after all a killer of creativity. Another reason is many feel they are not good enough writers, but have lots of good ideas, and so for many women the option to speak is of greater appeal.
Here are a few common myths worth busting about writing a book, that might surprise you. For one thing, you don’t have to be a ‘good writer’. In fact, many authors are not even writers at all. It’s now possible to dictate your book and have it transcribed – which is a good option for some, as long as you work with a very good editing team to ensure your words translate well into reader-friendly text. A common mistake many first-time writers fall into the trap of, is not understanding the role of the editor in developing a strong manuscript.
Another common misconception is about the size of a book and therefore how long it will take to write one. For example, a non-fiction book is ideally around 30,000 words – give or take 5,000 – spread over eight–fifteen chapters. Let’s break that down into bite sized chunks:
- Fifteen chapters at 2000 words
- Two–four hours writing per chapter per week (depending on your style and speed)
- One chapter per week
- Fifteen weeks of writing (four months first draft completed)
If this sounds too daunting one option for many would-be authors is to engage the services of a ghost writer, and for a first-time author this can be a big help. Having someone who can interview you, get your words out and on paper in a way that is well structured, reader friendly, and takes the hard work out of it may seem like an easy option. However, hiring a ghost writer does require a lot of forethought and it’s best to work with an experienced one if it’s your first time.
Another myth is that you have to write a book in chronological order. If you have a good plan, you can write all the easy chapters first, then attend to the longer or harder ones after you are in the swing of writing. This way you get a lot of your book project gathering momentum before you run out of enthusiasm for finishing it. A solid plan also means you work out exactly what should be in your book, before you start. This helps to avoid another common author mistake, of having too much content, or content that isn’t what your reader needs.
Regardless of what kind of book you want to write, your story is the key to helping readers engage and remember what you shared.
If writing a book on your bucket list, but are unsure about what is involved, or whether it’s even a good idea, your best starting point is to start looking at what else is currently written about your subject. Is yours a perspective that is unique? Original?
Do your homework, and enjoy the journey you’re about to embark on. And try not to let fear of the unknown hold you back – the world, or some parts of it might be waiting for exactly what you have to share. Remember, we are all unique with a different view on the world and have our own story to share. Happy Writing.
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