Lessons learned from creative writing

I started writing my book on 26th of December 2018 and I was done with it about three weeks later at 19th of January 2019. All in all, it took about 3 weeks so not that bad and it left me wondering why it takes so long for the author to write their books. I quickly found out, though. But let us not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

If we rewind the clock a bit to a time before I started writing the book. How did the process start? I’ve been dreaming about writing a book for a solid five years now, to say the least. I never really had an idea that would work as a plot or theme or anything for a book. I just knew that I wanted to write one some day.

Maybe one day I’ll have a bookshelf full of books that I have written?

But as the years passed by and I did nothing to advance the dream I had it kinda faded into the background. The dream resurfaced every now and then for a while but I kept pushing it back to the back of my brain. Maybe someday, I kept thinking.

It was November if I remember correctly when I found myself actively planning for a book in a way. I did not have a clear idea or anything but I had these characters in my mind that I’d like to use. They just popped into my mind once in a while and I grew into liking them. I planned what they could be like and what they would do and etcetera.

After a month of toying with the idea of actually starting to write the damn book I decided to just do it. I mean what did I have to lose? I enjoy writing in general and I had had some spare time lately and did not really have ideas for my programming projects.

I picked up a pen and paper and just started writing all the ideas I had for the main characters and after I was done with the second main character I switched to my laptop and Google Docs. I found them to be better for writing down ideas and refining them.

After an hour or so I had these wireframes for my characters and by then I had a somewhat of a plot in mind as well. It was time to start writing the book. I chose to use Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word or Apple Pages just to be able to write anywhere and anytime using my iPhone. That was a great decision. Sure Google Docs is not the best platform to write but it sure is convenient and more than enough for my needs.

As I started writing, most of the time the words just appeared onto the pages almost automagically. Of course sometimes I did have to stop and think about how to say some things etcetera. But most of the time it was really easy for me.

After about three weeks I had my book ready. Sure it wasn’t the longest book ever written with only 32 000 words (bear in mind that I write in Finnish so if you want to compare the number of words for a book written in English multiply it by 1.5 or so) and 320 pages (with page size A5, font being Arial and line spacing 1.5). Short, but for me, it was more than enough.

It wasn’t quite that thick.

To be honest it didn’t really turn out be as good as I dreamt. Who cares though? Not me, that’s for sure. I had written a book. I had proven myself that I can do it. If I put my head to it I can actually write a book which is pretty darn impressive in my opinion.

Now if we get back to me wondering why it takes a serious author so long to write a book. Sure the quality is a lot better because of the more practice in writing they have and the books are longer in general or that they put a lot more research into it but that is not the whole picture in my opinion, though. I realized this after I found out about a writing competition which I am planning to participate.

When your livelihood is depending on your writing (which for me isn’t the case) and you have a deadline for when the book is needed to be ready it does affect a lot on your output. Since the competition has a prize for the top three writers it sure does put on some pressure on the writer. Even though it doesn’t have any negative effect on my livelihood if I don’t happen to win it has made the writing be a lot harder since there’s something at stake. And the impending deadline sure isn’t helping, either.

I mean, I can’t really write just about everything that comes out of my mind, so to speak. If I am able to enter the competition I want my writing to be so good that it genuinely could win it. I need to have a good plot and a style of writing that does not want the judges to tear their eyes out when reading it.

For the competition I have to write about 100 pages with size being A4 and each page containing about 2000 characters. That is about two thirds of the book I wrote already. By looking at those requirements I know I can do it most certainly just because I have already done it. So far the problem has been trouble deciding what kind of a story I want to write.

I have written about 12 pages so far but I think I’ll trash like 9 of them and just keep the prologue which I like. I want the manuscript to be an action-packed thriller and so far it hasn’t been that. After the prologue that is. For the past few days, I have been trying to come up with a good plot for the manuscript. I kinda have a plot in my mind already but I have had some troubles picking a place(s) where everything is supposed to happen and so forth. I’m sure I’ll come up with something and be able to finish the writing in time. The deadline is 31st of May this year so I do have more than enough time left.

So what are the lessons learned?

I learned that writing a so-called real book is a lot harder than I thought after finishing my book. I got better at writing in general in my opinion and even though the book is most likely never going to get published I did get good feedback on it so I learned that I can write in a way that engages the reader (or at least don’t make them stop reading after first few pages). I learned that Google Docs is the best platform for me to write (a book) just because I can write it anywhere and anytime and even with a phone.

But the most important thing I learned was that I am able to do it.


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