Well, it’s been a long time coming, but here it is. Drum roll, please….
How NOT to write a book.
This is Part IV of my “So You Wanna Be a Writer Series.”
But first let’s get caught up. In Part III, How Do I Get Started?, we discussed how to come up with ideas, how to play the “what if” game, and so forth. We talked about just doing it; just sitting your butt in a chair and writing until your fingers can’t hold the pencil anymore.
Now that that’s done, let’s take a humorous detour and find out how NOT to write a book:
You see, I’m pretty sure I’ve stumbled upon the perfect formula for how NOT to write a book, and I just wanted to share it with you. That way, you can NOT do the things I have been doing…or you CAN do the things I haven’t been doing…or, well you get the picture.
You see, I’m tweaking a nonfiction book proposal for an upcoming competition. The book’s already finished, but in case you didn’t know, nonfiction book proposals can be as long as or longer than the actual book! I’ve included all the appropriate components, like the overview, the market and the competition; now all I need is to edit for content and continuity, and trim a bit of the fat.
This should be easy enough to do, right? But I’m a person who falls prey to every sort of distraction known to man (or in this case, woman). So since I seem to NOT be getting anywhere fast lately, I decided to sit down and make a list of the things I’ve been doing (which leads straight to a list of things I haven’t been doing) instead of finishing my book.
And now…another drumroll, please!
Here’s a list of things you can do if you want to know how NOT to finish writing your book.
1. Wake up in the morning and promise yourself you’re going to write, then talk on the phone for 3 1/2 hours explaining to your best friend how you’ve set aside this entire day to write, and nothing’s going to distract you.
2. Plan an outline for your book, then watch the Judge Mathis Show instead of putting your thoughts on paper.
3. Plan to do some research on the internet, but run a google search on “how to potty train your new puppy” instead.
4. Wake up your pretty new puppy now that you’re thinking about it. Play with said puppy for half an hour.
5. Allow puppy to get some sleep…and step right in its poop as you’re putting it back in its crate. Take the next 30 minutes trying to get the ground-in puppy poop out of your carpet.
6. Consider buying new carpet.
7. Ask yourself why you didn’t bookmark that website you found on how to potty train your puppy.
8. Start out for your pencil and note pad, but make a hard right and head for the refrigerator. Make yourself a cold cut sandwich for lunch.
9. Chide yourself for not eating more vegetables with your lunch, then get in your car and head to the store to buy salad greens. Shop for two hours spending money you don’t have on groceries you never meant to buy in the first place.
10. Go home and prepare your lunch…and discover you forgot to buy the salad greens. Eat your lunch anyway.
11. Take new puppy, which is now howling its guts out, outside to use the potty. Play with it for 45 minutes while you wait for it to do its business [which it DOES NOT do], then bring it back inside.
12. Clean up the puppy poop your pretty new puppy drops the second you bring it back into the house.
13. Forget your puppy and note the familiar bloating you feel from the cold cut sandwich you ate for lunch. (See, you should have added a salad for roughage!) Measure the circumference of your belly, then after you’ve gotten over the initial shock, ask yourself when in h*ll you got that fat anyway.
14. Stomp toward your pencil and note pad to do some writing, but make a hard left to your full-length mirror. Position yourself so you can see if your butt is really as wide as it feels.
15. Wait for your heart to stop fluttering from the shock (because, damn, is that really what other people see when they walk behind you???), then head for the gym, screaming “Oh, my God,” all the way.
16. Return home and sit at your computer to do some serious writing, then suddenly remember that your wonderful son has downloaded BLASTERBALL for you.
17. Open BLASTERBALL with fiendish glee, then play for 3 action-packed, retina-burning hours–until your eyes go blurry and you see everything double, and your poor fingers stiffen in an arthritis-induced pose.
18. Check the clock and notice it’s time for Nancy Grace. Can’t miss her show, for heaven’s sake! Do a Scarlett O’Hara and chant daintily to yourself, “Oh, fiddle-dee-dee! Tomorrow is another day…”
19. With a dash of shame, a whole lot of regret and a vow to do better tomorrow, hang your head and switch the $%@ computer off.
Disgusting, isn’t it? I’m stopping here because I realize that even writing this list is distracting me from finishing my nonfiction book proposal. Plus, I want to give others a chance to add their own experiences to the list.
If you’ve discovered the secret of how NOT to write a book, please drop me a line. Let’s laugh together!
Best wishes and happy writing.
PS – Stay Tuned for Part V – What to do about Grammar and Spelling