Fifty Ways to…Write a Book

Necessity is the mother of invention. –English Proverb

I was in my car this evening, driving back home after dropping my grandsons off, when Paul Simon came on the radio singing his song, “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.” To paraphrase a section of the song, he has a woman trying to convince him that there are many ways to leave your lover. When he asks her to explain, she tells him, “why don’t we just sleep on it,” and kisses him. Suddenly his confusion is lifted, and he realizes that there must be, indeed, fifty ways to leave your lover.

All it takes is desire. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way. It reminds me of my former colleague Randy Maxwell back in my editing days used to say. He’s authored several books of his own, and he told me, “If a person is going to write a book, they will find a way.”

I’ve written books that have taken me years to complete, and I’ve written a book in seventeen days. I’ve written books while working full time as an editor, as a professor, while working on my doctorate degree, and while raising two children. That’s not to say that any of that was easy. But it becomes easier when you have the passion that drives you, the vision to see what you are writing, and the belief in yourself that you can complete what you have started.

J.K. Rowling started the Harry Potter series of books, probably the best selling series of all time, while she was riding the commuter train to work. Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind while she was a bank teller. There are countless other examples of authors who either got up early or stayed up late to write that book that haunted them. But the key, as I mentioned in the last paragraph, is that you have to have the passion, the vision, and the belief.

Once you realize that you can do it, it becomes easier. And once it becomes easier, you realize you have to raise the standard. Because serious writers know they can never stop trying to get better.