When I began my career as a journalist in 2006 at a small, weekly newspaper, I was blessed enough to have a great editor (and soon enough, mentor and friend), Allen Jones, who believed in my writing ability. He paid me compliments all the time in regard to my work ethic and writing, in particular my ability for narrative writing.
Along with the compliments, he would scold me when necessary, press me for better work, and have my back when the townspeople wanted me fired, reprimanded, or both.
In the news world, there is a difference between having a good writer and trusting a good writer. I was enough to be on the latter end.
Mr. Jones soon let me write columns for my sports section, which gave me ample opportunity to hone my skills in creative writing. I was able to write creatively about topics that affected everyone in the area.
Readers of the paper would often come up to me and tell me they would check the newspaper just to see if I had written a column. It was my source of entertainment and also my way to provide some sort of entertainment for those not completely interested in my description of the past weekend's football game, or whatever sport was in season.
It was a fun job that lasted three years and during that time I would commonly receive this question: "When are you going to write a book?"
My answer was always, "Probably never. I like writing articles, and books are really big."
THE IMPOSSIBLE TASK OF WRITING A BOOK
Writing a book seemed like an impossible task. The novels in the bookstores are thick—hundreds of pages long—and a massive undertaking. I was interested except for the fact it seemed too daunting. I was happy writing for the newspaper with the plan to jump to another, bigger publication, eventually working my way to The Times (NY or LA), The Journal, Time magazine.
Mr. Jones finally made the leap to starting his own magazine and I followed shortly thereafter. It was a time to write anything my heart desired, and so I did. Food, travel, fashion, movies, sex, whatever. I was expanding my ability, though not with the idea of writing a book.
Toward the end of my time at the start-up magazine, I began writing a short story. It began with a conversation at a diner. The conversation was about dying and the inability to do anything about it.
HOW MY FIRST NOVEL BEGAN
The short story continued. From 15 pages to 30 pages. Another twist brought me 10 more pages, 20 more pages. A little subplot added and I was soon at 80 pages. A vital character dies and I was soaring past 100 pages. Was I writing a book? It sure felt like it.
The characters continued to intrigue me with their little quirks, bantering back and forth, and their hopes to just survive the next few pages. It became a thrill ride. I was unaware of what was going to happen next and I loved every minute of it. The bad guys and their violence. The good guys matching their violence.
I was soon well past 200 pages and I had an inkling of how my first novel was going to end. But 100 pages later brought several twists and I didn't mind at all. I loved it. It had not been difficult. It had been...dare I say, easy. Fun, even.
Four hundred pages. Done and done. And once finished, I was looking forward to the next project.
I would like to say to all those people who asked me, or wanted to ask me, if I would ever write a book, "Yes. Yes, I have and it was a blast."
Editing and revising aren't as fun, obviously, as writing the first draft. But they're no deterrence.
START YOUR NOVEL PROJECT NOW
To those who wish to start a project as daunting as writing a book, I give you this: just write the first five pages. Write them and see where the story takes you. Then dare yourself to write five more. Soon enough, you won't mind the dare of 10 pages, then 20, and 30. And before you know it, you'll run out of dares and you'll just be writing because you can't get enough of what you're doing. You'll be caught up in your story or you'll fall in love with your protagonist or hate your antagonist so much that you will want to see it through to the end.
So don't be afraid to start jotting your life story or a fictional character's life story down now. Trust me, writing a book is daunting, just not as much as you think it is.