I’m meeting a brand new group of writing students on Tuesday night. Many if not all of them are likely asking themselves three questions. Can I really write a book in eight weeks? Am I capable of writing one at all? Do I have what it takes to finally get that book of mine out of my head into narrative form?
The answer to all three of those opening questions is a hearty, “hell yes!”
This is my fourth year teaching fall writing classes for Lewiston Adult Ed. I usually teach a spring class, also. I’m also facilitating my Publishing 101 Boot Camp again in October, during LAE’s fall Super Saturday, on October 26.
Former students have heard me say that I love teaching writing classes because I always feel like “I get more out of them than my students do.” By that I mean that teaching puts me in a place where I’m forced to honestly examine the state of my own craft. This always serves as a check-up, allowing me to take stock, consider new things, and refocus my energy on my passion for writing. I also have to check the BS at the door and get as real as I know how to be about the realities of being a writer, rather than a hack. This time will be no different as far as that goes, but there will be a twist with this group of 10 writers.
Writing a book doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, organization, spunk, and you have to be a wee bit crazy, or if you’re not, getting that book down and published will surely push you in that direction. I know because I’ve published two books of my own with RiverVision Press, produced a third for another writer, and I’ve gone through the process with a major publisher with my last one. I’ve also helped other authors get their own books out to readers, teaching them the tricks of indie publishing.
What makes this class really different than any of the other ones is that we’re not going to be talking about the process of writing (not much, anyways), but we’ll be rolling up our sleeves, collectively, and sprinting like mad towards a goal on the horizon. That goal is an independently-published book.
I’m sure that I’ll to be working with 10 talented writers, each of them with a great idea for a book. They all share a common purpose of wanting to get that idea to a place where it’s finally ready to be born. I’m excited thinking about this and the creative energy represented by that.
We’re going to work hard, there will be frustration, there will be doubts, but eight weeks from Tuesday, I’m convinced that if this group follows the prescription I’m offering them, they’ll be eight weeks closer to holding a finished product that will someday amaze, just like my very first book, When Towns Had Teams, still amazes me.
Thinking back on everything it took for that book; the crazy weeks of 16-hour days at the end–thinking that I’d never get it print-ready–and then seeing it come off the presses back in August, 2005, is a special memory for me.
Publishing has changed. The print model and abundant local book stores that existed in 2005 are gone. The process is still very much the same, however. Even more exciting are the many eBook platforms that exist and the barrier to entry for writers is now lower than ever.
Lower barriers mean more books than ever, and consequently, more mediocre, and downright terrible books. There are a wealth of first-time writers, all of them self-publishing, who don’t know where to begin, and lack guidance and an overall plan of attack. It’s often not their fault. There’s a wealth of misinformation out there.
We’ll be talking about all of these things and more. What’s even better, after eight weeks, I’ll be offering Publishing 101, a soup-to-nuts, and A to Z six-hour boot camp on how to put it all together. Plus, all ten of them have a built-in guide to bounce ideas off at each step along the way and even after the class is finished.
Oh! I almost forgot. I’m not just going talk about how to publish a book in eight weeks. I’m going to be working on my own book, also.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this; “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”
This is one teacher who is putting his money where his mouth is.