A few days ago my mom dropped me an SMS, “At last novel Ma siap jugak. After 5 years. Kl tak meletop tak taulah. Need more input from you n Noza for it to be a tear jerker. Happy ending tho’. A lot of editing to be done.”
(You gotta love my mom’s confidence. Her book sure ‘meletop’! 🙂 )
First of all, I would like to congratulate my mom on her first manuscript. (Way to go Mama!) Writing a novel or book is not easy. It takes serious dedication to finish, especially your first book. I was really surprised my mom’s manuscript was more than 600 pages! Jenuh nak baca and edit. Gonna take me some time to go through her first draft. But it took her more than 5 years to finish it, so I need to give the respect it deserves.
Not many know that I had once written a book. It was a self-help, create-your-business-from-home-type book called ‘Mobile Millions: Secrets of the Mobile Kings’. Didn’t sell that many copies (just a few thousand), but it was a decent attempt for my first book. Plus, the royalty cheques were quite decent.
(My book at an MPH outlet. They were clearing out old stocks. Haha)
Honestly, I didn’t think it was a big achievement, but many friends have said that to publish even one book is a big thing. Some have tried to write, but they just couldn’t follow through.
So, if you have ambitions to write a book of your own, here are 5 tips from yours truly on how to make your literary dream come true:
Tip #1: Write About Things That You Know
Depending on what you want to write (fiction or non-fiction), it’s best to write about things you’re familiar with. If you’re writing a romance novel, maybe you want to base it on your love life or someone else’s. If your love experience is cuter than Bridget Jones’, then you will have a blast writing about a character that is actually you! If you want to write a thriller, maybe you want to draw upon that experience of being hunted down by that gorgeous KGB/CIA femme fatale agent a few years ago, and how you dodged bullets Matrix-style, while running down that smelly alley behind Petaling Street. If you’re writing non-fiction, like self-help books, you can write about what exactly you’re an expert in. Say you’re really good in personal finance, you can write about the strategies that made you a multi-millionaire. That information is valuable to someone out there, and they’re willing to pay for that information. My point here is that write about things that you know. It makes writing easier, because it’s based on your life/knowledge, and you don’t have to invent stuff which consume a lot of time and energy.
Tip #2: Take 1 Hour A Day to Write
This is important. Being an author requires discipline. Or else, your manuscript will remain just some Word file inside your computer, never to see the light of day. Schedule 1 hour every day to write. Preferably somewhere quiet and at a time when no one bothers you. If 1 hour equals to 1 page, then it will take you about 3 months to write 100 pages. For a 300 page novel, that’s 9 months. However, I’m sure that 1 hour is the bare minimum. Most authors spend more time than that, and produce more pages as they get better at writing.
Tip #3: Don’t Worry About The Grammar. Focus on the Topic/Storyline.
I find it annoying that most of wannabe authors worry too much about grammar. Sure, it’s important. But it’s nowhere near as important as your topic or storyline. If your story sucks or content irrelevant, no amount of correct grammar can help you. Remember, you have a story to tell. Don’t worry about your grammar teacher grading you. You’ll probably earn more than him/her when your book is published. And your publisher would have an editor to assist with your atrocious grammar.
Tip #4: Take It Seriously. Set a Deadline.
As with any goals, you need to set a realistic deadline on when to finish. The deadline is really up to you. However, the longer you delay, the longer you have to wait for that dream of your first book to become a reality. In my case, I gave myself 3 months to finish a 120-page manuscript. I finished it in 4 weeks.
Tip #5: Print It Out. Imagine the End Product.
Print out every page that you manage to complete and compile it in a folder. This way you can read your words on paper. (It’s different from reading on-screen, ain’t it?) As you go further into your writing, the pages will add up. Next thing you know, your manuscript is already 400 pages, and you’re only halfway through! If you have the time, design your book cover as well and put it on the manuscript. You will feel the ultimate satisfaction as you see your book becoming a reality.
Once you’re done with your manuscript, the next thing to do shopping your manuscript around to publishers. Finding a publisher is tricky and time consuming. But that’s for another post. What’s important is to finish your first manuscript. I wish you all the best.
P.S: I’ll be glad to answer any questions on writing. Post your Qs in the comment section.
(Featured image credit: http://yaminatoday.com)