Step 1: Have an idea. A book is best if it’s about something.
Step 2: Write an outline. Just put your ideas on paper. You can fine-tune the order later.
Step 3: Spin your wheels. This is most helpful paired with succumbing to crippling self-doubt. I recommend spending a minimum of 75 percent of your total creative time stewing and agonizing about the impossibility of the project, your inability to begin it, much less complete it, and thoughts regarding the absurdity that a single human will ever find value in it. If you have the opportunity to work through this step during a global health crisis that plunges you in to sudden and complete unemployment, all the better. You’ve got nothing but time, baby. There are different ways to spin your wheels. You’ll find which way works best for you. I’ll just share what I do. And it’s proven! I am officially a published author.You are going to need a couch for most of this work. Yeah, you could just get up and sew and write about it, but where is the misery in that? I prefer to first spend about two months laying on the couch, shades drawn, re-reading detective and courtroom drama fiction. The titles are not important, but the fact that you’ve read them before and have completely forgotten the plots is imperative. By doing this you can layer your self-torture with the creeping worry that you are losing your memory. This is subtle, but effective. You can get up for exercise and meals (best consumed on the same couch) and of course to go to bed, but remember, this will take time away from your agonizing. Falling asleep on the same couch wearing the same pajamas you never changed out of during the day has proven to multiply desired results. Personal hygiene is absolutely optional. I will say, however, that not washing your face for days at a time will lead to the need for multiple applications of a serious hydrating mask.
Step 4: Cry. Cry a lot. Cry about how you feel in your heart of hearts that even though you know your subject inside out, that you are incapable of transferring it into words. After you finish a good cry, get back to the couch and resume reading that crime drama. What? You cried while reading? Congratulations! You’re catching on fast.
What are you waiting for? Two months is a long, long time to spend on the couch. The sooner you start suffering, the sooner you can be through this wheel-spinning step and start creating your masterpiece.
Step 5: Write your book. It really is that easy. Who knew? If at any time you are having trouble, feeling a block, or need to research anything, repeat steps 3 and 4. Steps 3 and 4 really are the system, so don’t feel bad if you need to get back there and do the work again.
Hugs & stitches,
Helen and Hazel
PS. This is not meant to minimize what we have all endured the past many months. I tend to turn to humor to describe my experiences- in hindsight, but it’s been stranger times, for sure. My sadness was and is real. Take good care, my friends.