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    Saturday
    Mar272010

    Writing is Lonely and Difficult, or So They Say

    We’ve all seen the cliché in books and movies. The lonely writer, alone at his desk, stares in tormented despair at a blank page. He types a few lines, muttering, then shakes his head and deletes what he’s written, because it isn’t brilliant enough. The story we all learn is that an author must struggle mightily, and that writing is a slow arduous process.

    Another inherent lesson we learn is that an author must go it alone. That’s because writing is represented as a high art, rather than craft. If you’re reaching into the poetry of your soul, it’s true, no one can help you with that. But most of us writers know that writing is 99% perspiration, and just 1% inspiration. If you reimagine writing a book as a craft project, rather than a work of art, then all sorts of new tools come to hand.

    I often liken creating a book to cooking, my other favorite mix of art and craft. All of us have pragmatically cooked to simply get dinner on the table. When you’re going to entertain friends, you prepare a better meal, with better quality ingredients and some flourishes, but you still get that meal on the table, using the same processes.

    What processes? For one, using a recipe. A step-by-step process that plans it out beforehand ensures success. Having your ingredients lined up and ready to go is a given, and it should be in authoring a book, too.

    But the biggest insight in this analogy is that writing can be very social and collaborative if you are willing to consult and include others. Just as I look on recipe sites for clever recipe ideas, there are excellent resources online and in books to guide your writing. Experts and professionals have a lot of good advice to offer. And then there are friends and family. They may not be expert writers, but they know and care about your story. Invite them into the kitchen!

    Friends and family can help with:

    what to include or exclude

    the order of your outline

    “how to say it” in particular stories

    and even a draft manuscript reading

    And of course, once they have helped to prepare the dish, they will relish it even more when you serve it up. These are the people who will be most excited to read your book when it is published.

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