How to Start Writing A Book

Don’t Write Like You Talk
What I learned from agents & authors, publishers & poetsStarting Your book by Catharine Bramkamp

Just start.  Sometimes we get caught up in the promotion and the expectations for our books, because they are like children.  We incubate the tiny human for nine months, they are painfully born and here they are!  And before we’ve spent any time at all getting acquainted, we think, ah, this child will be a police officer, construction worker, cowboy or Indian chief.  And we will be so proud.  You picture the graduations from multiple universities. You picture yourself bragging to your friends about your wonderful child who is wonderful because you are the perfect parent.

This child will live all the dreams you were forced to defer.

This child will make the income that eluded you.

This child will take advantage of new technologies, new attitudes, and better fashion.

And on her second birthday, the child will demonstrate that no, no she will not.  And all  you are left with  is sixteen years to get used to your dissapointment.

Yeah, writing a book is just like that. All those expectations about publishing?  Like as soon as your book is published you will become younger, thiner, and richer?  May not pan out.  All those hopes for a transformative experience the minute the book is accepted for publication?  You still must do the laundry.

And all those  accolades?   People don’t really care that much, they don’t understand the process or the effort.  Oh, you wrote a book.  I just won third place in the local rodeo for roping tanks.  And the both of you stand there and you think, my kid said something about wanting to rope inanimate objects. 

You cannot control the outcomes. Not for your book and not for your child.  But as you know, you can control the daily interaction.  You can listen to your child, you can take them out on adventures, you can love them.

You can be in every moment possible.

That’s how you manage any great big huge project.

Once you let go of the outcome (I know, sounds kind of zen, and it kind of is), then you can concentrate on the work.  Decide what you want from the writing experience.  Do you have something to say?  Begin by saying it.  Do you have  a beef against the small cowboy child who yesterday  roped  the  full coffee maker?  Write about that.    

You start because there is something about doing that will feed your soul.  You begin because you are essentially raising a book and it’s all about the daily tasks and efforts.

Think of book  publication as  High School Graduation.  You are finished with all the daily work, all the moments, all the concentration, all the homework.  And now the child and the book have graduated – it’s official. 

I would like to say that now the work is done.  But it’s not. The work has just changed.

Believe me, it’s more fun to do the first phase, the writing phase, than the second, the post publication phase.  As my friend commented, the hardest years for raising a boy is between 18 and 23, because all you can do is take the call that starts with “I’m okay”.

To learn more.
Visit us on ITunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
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The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

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TBT- Batman China

img_9839From 1987 to 89 I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material.  But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your scrunchie  and welcome to the 80s.

I had forgotten about the Batman China.  I still have it, I still use it.  Did you know that if you  put that gold rimmed china repeatedly in the dishwasher that over 30 or so years the gold actually tarnishes?  This kind of thing never happened to Batman.  But damn, there was no way I was hand washing all those dishes at midnight on Thanksgiving, not when I had to get up early to shop on Black Friday.

So for 30 something years, into the dishwasher that china went.  It looks a bit worse for wear. But then again,  I’ve used it.  I use it for casual Saturday dinners. I use it for friends. I serve burgers on it.

I use it because to save something like that for special occasions seems like such a waste.

Almost as pointless as acquiring something so expensive and delicate in the first place.

But what did I know? You get married, you chose a god damn china pattern.  And when you suggest to your husband, who came with the china, that maybe just using paper plates on Thanksgiving would steam line the whole process, it’s now his opportunity to point out that YOU wanted the expensive china, and WE are serving dinner on the god damn china.

So I think of Batman and my ill conceived ideas about what items are important in a marriage.  Faith, love, honesty, not necessarily good china.

  When one child married, he and his wife asked for no gifts.  At all.  They chose to start their lives together dishwasher safe.   

I’m pretty proud of them.

Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
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The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

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Technically Prepared – Instagram Poem

Instagram poem

To learn more.
Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

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Scrivener for NaNoWriMo

Don’t Write Like You Talk
What I learned from agents & authors, publishers & poets

How do you organize a book?  I am a Scrivener fan, so I’ll tell you what I told the Sierra writers club this October.  Specifically, how do you organize a book when you are writing furiously for NaNoWriMo?

There are books and blogs devoted to Scrivener and I recommend looking those up.  However, I also know how easy it is to spend your days mastering  a system for writing instead of actually writing.  So here are the basics for Scrivener. I recommend just starting and worrying about the advanced mechanics after you’ve finished your November Novel.keep your novel organized

What I like:

Cork board

You can create that iconic novel system – the 3 by 5 cards scribbled with plot points, right on your computer.   Write down the summary of your plot or just a few random note that will best remind you of what you want to say and better, what the character has to say.  You can arrange the cards any way you’d like and the full notes and material will follow.  Like magic.  Bonus, you can actually print out these cards into real 3 by 5 cards if you want to shuffle them and lay them out on the floor which I did for Future Sky because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

It worked.

Document notes

These are notes you make on the right hand side of your manuscript.  It’s space to yes, make notes on your document and they also stay attached to the main work.  I put photos in here, notes for later and sometimes deleted scenes that don’t work but are relevant to the story.

Sections in the binder

These are discrete essay spaces to place scenes, descriptions, everything that goes into a novel.  These are linked to those 3 by 5 cards so don’t  your sections Chapter One, Chapter Two.  You’ll never know what the pages are about.  Name them as descriptively as you can so you can easily find them and move them around.

Keep the action and characters to their own individual sections, that way it’s easier to re-order and shuffle.

Research

Use the research section to capture characters and setting and research notes.   Uncheck the box to the right under General – Include in Compile so when you select Compile or Project statistics to see how many wonderful words you have written – you won’t fool yourself by counting the lengthy research you dropped into the project – that’s cheating.   Yes I know what I said last week.

Project

Use project statistics to track your word count.  Easy and you can stay in the program as you track your progress.

That’s just the basics because we all should be writing.  But in December, explore this program more, it’s one of the best tools I’ve experienced for writers.

To learn more.
Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

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No Man’s Land – Instagram Poem

Instagram poem, No Man's Land

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How to Keep Writing Your Book

Don’t Write Like You Talk
What I learned from agents & authors, publishers & poets

It’s NaNoWriMo.

How to keep writing You’re writing a book
I’m writing a book
This is fun, this writing of books.
But now that the first few hours of ecstasy has worn off. How do you keep writing that book?
Cheat
Scheme
Win

I wrote the raw drafts for five books during five consecutive Novembers.  They have all been accepted for publication (the release of said books is another matter).  I love writing a raw draft in a month, I get a kick out of writing dangerously, recklessly.  But the system does have its drawbacks.   Like when you get stuck during your third hour of writing.

What next?

Rather than tell you how to manage your plot and your character, because at this stage in a draft, all you need is a fearless hero/heroine and for pages and page you keep putting stuff in their way:  drain pipes, data, dragons, it  doesn’t matter, this is November, it’s all about the word count.

How do you drag yourself through the slog of word counts? 

I cheat.

My first way  is to give myself really small, ridiculous goals.  I write them all down using colored felt pens, I make big squares on a calendar and post the calendar for all to see.  On each square I write, say, 1,600 words.

Then I do a little more.  If I do a lot more I re-align the goals so they are either smaller goals or the time shorter.  I make big Xs through each accomplished word count goal. 

I dance, I do more and get ahead.  I cheat against my own system. It’s enormously satisfying and it keeps me focused.

Can you “earn” a day off on Thanksgiving by writing 3,400 works on Wednesday? 

Can you start early and bank up your words?  Seriously, who will know you didn’t start at Zero on November 1.  Start with 10,000 words on November first.  You are a rock star!  You are amazing! See how great that feels?  Only we will know.

Maybe your November is packed.  I wrote Future Sky in October – same rules, 50,000 words in a month, but I used October as my month.

NaNoWriMo is not about rules, it’s about community and about stretching yourself, challenging yourself.  It’s about writing as fast as you can and jumping over data, dragons and drain pipes.

If you need to start ahead, if you have a special needs novel that needs more time, take it.

It’s all about getting the words down.

Visit us on ITunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

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TBT – Don’t Drive By

In 1989 I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material.  But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your Scrunchie  and welcome to the 80s.

1980s article about the Renaissance FairDid this work?  Did dragging the boys to the Renaissance Faire accomplish anything at all?  Yes, it did.  The oldest has at least a small knowledge of Shakespeare thanks to short presentations like Shakespeare: the Bloody Bits (truly great, nothing but fight scenes, how clever was that?).  Both boys have an appreciation for blacksmith work.  Neither have, to my knowledge, voluntarily paid money to see a Shakespeare play in full.

After reading this column what struck me was not that my husband and I were so wonderful in exposing our children to living history in general and Shakespeare in particular.  The take away was that we took advantage of the Renaissance Fair when we could.

That fair  was held   at Blackpoint in Marin County. It was considered one of the very best of it’s kind. The venue  was hilly, and shaded by ancient oak trees.  It was a mere 25-minute drive from our house.  Yet every   summer, the only conscious decision we made about the fair was to avoid traveling in that direction.  Traffic was always backed up and annoying.  For years we passed the signs, glanced at the articles, thought – yeah, at some point we should check this out.

We finally did.  It was great, and we returned with the same boys three times.    We loved everything, but worked to make sure they were engaged (they were not required to love anything actually, but the loved those swords.   I should ask if they remember the Renaissance Fair, I’m too busy asking them if they like their work, if they still have work, if their housing situation is still stable so they won’t be thinking of moving back in with us.  So selfish.

Anyway, the take away isn’t to drag your children to a Renaissance Fair because it will make them better people.  The take away is don’t ignore the interesting activities, spaces, events that are close by, don’t pass them by, turn.  Explore.

   That beautiful, perfect spot to hold a Renaissance Fair?  It is now a golf course ringed by million dollar homes.  No more mead, no more turkey legs, no more Shakespeare, no more swords.   

Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

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The Problem with Death – Instagram Poem

The Problem with Death - Instagram poem

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The Next Steps to Writing a Novel

What are the steps to writing?

Last week we discuss the first step to creating your masterpiece, or the great American Novel, or a how-to book on beer brewing.

The first is to start, or even just stand up and know, in your black little soul, that you are going to do this.

Next steps?Article on the first step to writing a book

Figuring out exactly how to go about it.  I know, you wanted this last week – what are the five easy steps to guarantee a best selling novel?

Unless you are the favorite child of the senior book editor for Random House, there are no five easy steps and no guarantees.

But there are ways to start so you can build a book, and take satisfaction in the process.

Initial step:  If you don’t like the work, nothing will work for you.

Step 1 – Stand up and wobble a bit – think of yourself as a writer.

Step 2- Read everything in the genre in which you’d like to write – actually this is on going, and if you love your genre, every book, every lecture, every book store visit will be a joy.  If you are only writing in this genre because you think it will make money, you life will become hell on wheels. Stop it. 

If you love to read romance novels, then go ahead and write them.

But if you’d rather write fantasy – write it. Don’t chase the market, write what you love best, it will show.

Step 3 –  Outline your idea for your book.

Step 3.5  Failing that, consider your main character – who is he or she, what do they want?

Step 4 – what gets in the way of your main character?  What prevents him or her from getting their heart’s desire?

Step 5 – repeat step four.

Plot is just one damn thing after another.  Story is the way your character overcomes all those damn obstacles.  Together, they make up your novel.

It’s not a complete list, but it is a way to start.

To learn more.
Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

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American Poet – Instagram Poem

Instagram poem

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