523 words in (the writer said).

The fireplace, though not crackling per-say, roars before me, the newest Tristan Prettyman coos in the background, and sporadic conversations with Jeannie-friend and writing partner, Erin, bubble up every couple minutes.  Erin continues to write the next great YA novel, and finally putting pen to paper, I am officially 523 words into my book.

There, I said it: my book.  

Now, while I’d like to have the Writer’s Life handed to me on a silver platter, with The Perfect, Epic Book Idea the gravy to my research (done) and thoughts (finalized) and brilliance (achieved) mashed potatoes, I’m not there yet.

But in 15 hours’ time, including a not-so-sleep-filled night, I have already realized the following 11 Utterly Scintillating Steps Toward Writing Your First Book: 

  1. Realize that writing a book is hard work.  Done.
  2. Bring a stack of stickies and affix a little yellow square that reads, “Do not press the backspace key” to the side of your computer.  Then, try your hardest to follow your handwritten instructions.
  3. Know your stuff.  See also: do your research.  Side note: This will take time, lots and lots of time.
  4. The thesaurus just might be your best friend.
  5. Remind yourself that writing is a process, and most great “Personal Memoir/Non-Fiction” novels are not achieved overnight, nor in three months’ time.  So sprinkle some grace-grace-grace over your head and your shoulders and your back, will you?
  6. Do the math: 500 words a day (which is a freshman year essay, at best), written every day for 365 days is 180,000 words!  As the average manuscript is 50,000 words, since half of those are automatically to-be-deleted-crap, you’ve got yourself a book, or at least a book and a half!
  7. Stare at the fire.  It’ll calm you.  It’ll speak to you.  It’ll give you peace.
  8. Call yourself a writer. it’s okay.  Go ahead, do it, try it.  I think you’ll like it.  Maybe it’s time to purchase those business cards.
  9. Walks are good.  Walks are very, very good, so get out there in that cold Palm Springs sunshine, and be refreshed.
  10. Have good wine and perfect food and friends-who-write and cheer you on with you. Talk to them if need be, and then shut up.  Repeat.
  11. Find your music – but let it be music you can unknowingly nod your head to without singing along.  You know, just new-enough music.

And finally, don’t distract yourself with too many books, as you are too often prone to do.  But just pick one book* for this weekend, maybe something that looks like this…

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 12.05.46 PM

And darling, let’s just add a12th admonition here: Have fun.  Enjoy this gift of a weekend, this time away from the HBH and Cancan, from the monotonous spontaneity of the everyday, and relish in the beauty and perfection and loveliness of these three days.

I mean, how can you not?

xo, c.

What about you?  Writers and novelists and budding artists, what would you add?  And, more importantly, what 6th grade math problem has given you encouragement as of late?

* = I highly recommend Beth Kephart’s Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir

11 thoughts on “523 words in (the writer said).

  1. You go, girl! Write away!

    If your book is at all about spiritual topics, I have a great suggestion: The Art of Spiritual Writing by Vinita Hampton Wright. I interviewed her on my blog just recently. (She edited my last book and she was phenomenally good at knowing what it needed … spookily good.)


    It may be a better read when for you’re a bit further along, but it’s full of good advice for what makes a spiritual book marketable from an editor’s perspective.

    Enjoy the writing!

    1. Oh yay! I’ll definitely put it on my to-read list – we’ll see what happens, although knowing myself, it’s life + faith + all the other goodies that make up me, so yes, there will be spiritual nuggets indeed. 🙂

      Cara Meredith

      be, mama. be. carameredith.com

  2. So proud of you and your 523 words! It worked out for me to be here…since a horrible deadline was sprung on me. I’m a zombie today, but my final edits are in the hands of the publishers. All that to say, if I did it, you can too, friend. All the love!

    1. Yay! I’m so glad everything worked out – you were thought of and talked of (in all the good ways) and missed, of course, too. Congrats on the final edits! I’m officially 2500 words in. Baby steps! xo.

      Cara Meredith

      be, mama. be. carameredith.com

  3. Love love love this, dear Cara.
    Writing is always scary, perhaps startlingly more so when writing “a book.”
    I would just like to say: you’ve got this. 🙂

    1. Oh friend, THANK YOU!!! And I can’t wait for our writing weekend someday in 2014 – just putting that out there. So, let’s start dreaming.

      Cara Meredith

      be, mama. be. carameredith.com

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