Since I began sharing the news of my first book with my family members and friends, I’ve heard several of them say, “That’s something I hoped to do some day”. I anticipate that I will hear this regularly as I meet and engage with more people on this writing adventure.
I’m convinced that everyone has some amazing story to tell. Whether it is the story of your grandfather the Tuskegee airman, your neighbor who hid the fact that he was a serial killer from everyone around him, your mother the high-priced escort, or your own triumph over adversity–there is something you know about that somebody would want to read about.
How do you get started? How do you find time? How do you know if you’re doing it “right”.
I say, stop. Make time. Just get it on paper. Worry about the formalities (spelling, grammar, complete sentences, story structure) later. Then, when you feel like you’ve squeezed the sponge of your inner thoughts dry, do your research.
My first book, Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure, began as a journal entry. I figured my grandkids might be intrigued to find it and learn a little more about Granny Joy one day.
I was used to ranting in my journal about things, just dumping my thoughts on paper as quickly as possible in whatever form they emerged. I made time to do this, because I could see and feel the positive results of this form of purging every time I wrote. It provided immediate release. I was less angry, sad, or frustrated. Seeing my thoughts on paper highlighted flaws in my thinking that I otherwise would not have noticed. Journaling provided hindsight. It wasn’t until after I got it all “out of my system” that I started researching the ins and outs of proofreading, editing, and publishing.
If you have something to say, just give yourself an hour to sit down and write whatever comes to your mind. It may be hard to stop. You may look up and find that several hours have passed. And you may need some Kleenex.
See, I think a big part of the reason people don’t journal or tell their stories is that the page (or screen) is like a mirror. When you sit down with your raw thoughts, the lights are bright, the mirror is right in your face, and you can hide nothing. You can try to run or distract yourself, but the truest thoughts will flow. It’s your choice to let them… or to save the writing for “another day”.
I think author Stephanie Newell gives some great tips in this video for getting started with telling your story: