I've decided to take a more definitive direction with my blog thanks to a twitter post I found couresy of @elizabethscraig (http://jameskillick.blogspot.com/2011/02/another-five-ways-to-atrocious-blog.html). If you're a writer and you're not following her on Twitter, you're missing out on a lot of really great information. Until now, my postings have been mostly random topics usually related to what I'm currently working on - either a particular chapter I've struggled with or a step I've taken toward publication. To kick off this new beginning I thought I would start at my own beginning.
When I first decided to write a book, all I had was a story in my head. I'm a nurse. I've never taken a writing class, and I don't have friends who write. Needless to say, I had no idea where to begin. So, I did what any other ambitious newbie would do- I copied what already existed. That translates into- I formatted my Word doc to trade paperback size, made the font small enough to look like the books I had on my shelf, and counted the average number of words per page and pages per chapter. Then, I started to write.
Let me save you other newbies some trouble.
Take a fresh new Word doc and make the margins 1" on all sides. Double space, and set the paragraph to a 0.5" indent on the first line. Put your name on the left side of the header and on the right put the book title (call it "Title" to start if you haven't got one) followed by the page number. If you want to, in the footer, put the copyright symbol, the year, your name and the words "All rights reserved." Mine reads (c) 2009 Michelle A. Luce-Kobayashi. All rights reserved. If you can't find the copyright symbol, look under Insert -> Symbol.
Now that you're done with that, put "Chapter 1" at the top and on the next line, start writing. It's that simple. What you start with will suck. You may decide it's great, but if this is your first attempt at writing, I can almost guarantee whatever comes out will not be part of your final manuscript (MS). Don't let that hold you back. It takes thousands of words to really find your groove and that's okay. It's not what you start with that matters. It's what you're left with after multiple drafts, edits and rewrites that counts.
A little secret- I wrote 17 chapters in a document that looked like a mini-paperback novel, and I threw it all out and started over. I did some research, learned a few things and here I am, over two years later with a MS being polished for submission. It won't happen overnight, but if you keep at it you'll someday get there.
So keep writing, and most of all, have fun! Your imagination will thank you for it.