1. All you need is one idea. The rest will come as you write.
2. But you must absolutely love that one idea. Writing a book is kind of like marriage. Are you willing to wake up with that idea after it’s become old and boring day after day, month after month, year after year? When you want to bail (and you will) you’ve got to be able to remember the love.
3. Writing a book is also like having a baby. You must be willing to sacrifice a bit (or a lot) of your social life in order to take care of the baby.
4. Get a small notebook and have it with you at all times. Without a notebook your life will be littered with scraps of paper where brilliant ideas went to die.
5. Most ideas will come when you are trying to sleep. Don’t ever, ever, EVER fool yourself into thinking you will remember it in the morning. Keep your notebook by your bed and write it down, or use the voice memo feature on your cell phone.
6. Your creative process is your own. Learn from, and be inspired by other writers and bloggers, but don’t compare, and don’t assume you must do it the same way they do it.
7. Some people outline, some don’t. Try it, but if it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay.
8. For your first book, write the book you would like to read. Don’t worry too much about market appeal. Once you’ve proven to yourself you can do it, you can worry about how to do the next one better.
9. After falling madly and desperately in love with your characters, you will talk about them endlessly. Hopefully you have an understanding partner.
10. Accept that you will become “book bi-polar,” crying over it one moment, swooning over it the next. Learn to ride the waves.
11. It’s a cold, hard, terrifying fact: you will need feedback before you publish. A good editor, proof-reader, and beta-readers. Scary, huh?
12. People might not be as supportive as you hope. And when you do finally publish, some people might behave in baffling ways. That’s about them, not you. Surround yourself with those who are on your side.
13. Don’t let confusion about the publishing process stop you from writing the book. Trust me, you’ll have more than enough time during the writing process to figure it out.
14. Find someone you trust to bounce ideas off of. It’s difficult to write a book in a vacuum.
15. Learn to listen to your intuition. If you are writing and something feels off, it probably is.
16. Sometimes you will not want to write. There will be zero inspiration. You have to write anyway.
17. And sometimes you will need to walk away for a few days. Or maybe even weeks. That’s okay, too.
18. Your first draft will suck. Expect it. Revel in its craptacularness. That’s the only way you’ll allow yourself to write it. (See The Real Problem With Your Crappy First Draft.)
19. Create an elevator speech about your work in progress. You will want a quick, concise response when friends (and strangers) ask you what you’re writing.
20. What’s your book’s theme? And your writing style? What about your voice? Don’t stress if you don’t have the answer to these questions. They’ll be revealed as you go.
21. If you’re truly concerned about what so-and-so will think, write under a pen name. Writing a book is hard enough without the fear of being “found out.”
22. That said, most people don’t care about what you write as much as you think they do.
23. Some people might be really mean and make you feel like what you are writing is not “real” writing. Once again, that’s about them, not you.
24. It will probably take longer than you expect.
25. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: you’ll think it’s not good enough. Don’t you dare let that stop you.