Sorry for my long hiatus. This last year has been very busy. Between writing my Pediatric board exam, finishing my first novel and having our third child I didn’t have much time to blog. But I’m back and ready to go!
I recently signed a book deal with Central Avenue Publishing for my first novel FROM ANT TO EAGLE and have been working with the amazing Michelle Halket towards a release date of April 2017. So I wanted to write about that process and hopefully encourage any of you who have ever wanted to write a novel to get started.
*looks scathingly at his mother-in-law*
Apparently 80% of people say that they want to write a book (I don’t know where this statistic comes from… I’m basing this completely on hearsay…). There are lots of excuses for not starting but probably the most common are:
1. “I have no talent”
2. “I don’t have enough time”
3. “I don’t have any great ideas for a book”
4. “I get painful arrhythmias and incontinence every time I look at a keyboard”
Hopefully by reading this post you will see that none of these are good excuses. Except maybe number 4. If that happens, you should probably see a doctor. And not me. A different doctor. Because that doesn’t sound like an allergy.
So let’s go through each of these excuses:
Number 1: “I have no talent”
When I started writing my novel it was terrible. And I mean TERRIBLE! I wrote with the cadence and sentence structure of a seven-year-old and ended up throwing away everything I wrote… multiple times. I had no formal training in writing (I took one english credit in university because it was mandatory) and would regularly fail spelling tests in elementary school. (Now I’m a doctor so I just scribble and hope no one can read it…)
I’ve heard that even some of the best writers in the world think that what they’re currently writing is terrible. Only after they stop and go back does it sound okay. And only after it has been edited and re-edited does it sound good. With practice comes less editing. And hopefully after many tries, you can get something down that people will want to read. It takes time, but unless you start, you’re never going to develop the skill. So forget talent – just start working – the skill will come.
Number 2: “I don’t have enough time”
Over the past seven years I finished medical school, a residency in pediatrics, a fellowship in allergy, got married, had three children, wrote my board exam and still found time to write 3 novels. (though two of them are only first drafts)
The simple truth about writing is that you won’t find time unless you want to. And you won’t want to unless you’ve tried. Writing is like going to the gym, initially it is very difficult to find the motivation but after you start it’s difficult to stop. Or at least, that’s how it was for me.
My life has been chaotic but I always try to find at least an hour or two a day to write. Whether it’s opening my laptop at 3 in the morning on a call shift, or hashing out a few hundred words after the kids go to sleep, or editing what I’ve already written while my wife delivers our third child (that’s only partially a joke) – I have always tried to make time. And I’m only able to make time because I love it.
For me writing is an escape. It began as a cathartic release for the distressing things I saw at work and has evolved into a chance to put all my daydreaming on paper. You might start writing and find you hate it. In that case, you probably won’t finish the book. There is too much work involved to grind it out. But if you love it, you will continue, and you will make time for it.
Number 3: “I don’t have any great ideas for a book”
Simply not true. Everyone has ideas. Like Pokemon, you just need to evolve them. When I started writing my novel I only had very faint ideas for what it would be about. I knew I wanted to write a book about brothers. I knew I wanted to incorporate my medical training. But beyond that, I didn’t know anything.
I just started writing.
Many of my first ideas never made it to the final cut. But as I wrote, new ideas formed and those are the ones that eventually came together to form the novel. I’ve heard there are two ways to write a book – outline it all beforehand or just start writing and see where it goes. I did the latter. And if you don’t have any “great ideas” I suggest you start there too. In time, ideas will develop and you can sit down and form an outline if you so choose.
Number 4: “I get painful arrhythmias and incontinence every time I look at a keyboard”
Why are you still reading this?!? Get to a hospital!!!!
So there they are, my thoughts on writing. Obviously I’m no expert and there are way better resources available (I’d recommend ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King). Either way, the most important thing you can do is start. So stop reading this blog and get writing!
If you have any questions feel free to post in the comments section below or else I can be contacted through the various social media outlets:
Cheers and good luck!