4 Profound Truths on Writing from Jerry Jenkins | Motivation Monday | The Litertarian
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This is the first truth I learned from Jerry Jenkins in this incredible video from his YouTube channel. In it, he outlines 13 steps to writing a book based on his 40 years of experience as a bestselling author (with over 100 books to his name). What do elephants have to do with motivation, you may be wondering. The elephant, my friends, is your novel; an enormous thing that can sometimes seem impossible to accomplish if you consider the whole thing at once. However, if you focus your attention on something smaller, one plateful, or one bite, what needs to be done becomes straight-forward. As long as you keep taking more bites of that elephant (which seriously, I do not recommend. This is 100% hypothetical, you get that, right?), you will have eventually consumed the entire thing. So, think of your novel (or other large writing projects) as an elephant that needs to be eaten. Break it down into smaller managable sections, and then write it…one sentence at a time. Don’t Give Up Another piece of advice Jerry Jenkins has for us is to not give up. The context he uses is the middle of the book, notoriously difficult for almost every writer. The middle is a marathon. Jenkins makes it very clear that writing a book is never easy. Writers everywhere have expressed a point in their projects where they get to a breaking point. Thoughts like, what made me think I can do this, who am I to write a book, everything I’ve written so far is junk and it’s going nowhere fast tend to crop up in the moments we feel the most uncertain of our stories. It is important to understand that this is a normal part of the process that everyone experiences. You have to push through, you have to keep writing another sentence, and then another. Don’t let self-doubt win. Stay Accountable to Yourself This point is especially important for newbie writers like myself, for one simple reason: first time writers don’t have publishing deadlines. However, he also points out that a vast majority of writers never meet their deadlines anyway, so it is important advice for everyone. Make a schedule, and stick to it! This is one I really need to take to heart myself, as I tend to work on my fiction intermittently with no structure around it at all, so it is no wonder that I have yet to finish a draft! I work especially well during NaNoWriMo, so it’s actually a little ridiculous that I haven’t done some more experimenting with daily writing goals throughout the year. Jerry, you’ve inspired me to start. Reader First!! Lastly, the most important truth I heard in this video is to always put the reader first. We may write to some degree for ourselves, but really the writing is meant for a reader (even if the reader is simply a future version of ourselves). Try to maintain this mindset the entire time you’re writing, but especially in revision stages. Ask yourself, is this scene in the book for me, or for the reader? What would make this scene more exciting for a reader? Et cetera. Losing sight of our eventual audiences will never lead to anything good, so make sure you are considering your work through their eyes through every stage of the process. One of the reasons I love this blog is because just when I think I’ve heard just about every piece of writing advice that has ever existed, I come across a video like this one, that makes me consider things in a new way, and I get to share it. It’s one of my favorite things about learning ever more about the craft of writing. There is always something new to learn, even if it is just different phrasing of concepts you’ve read about again and again. Sometimes all it takes is a different approach to a topic to help it sink in. These are only four of the most impactful truths in this video for me. I encourage each of you to watch the original video or visit his website for more writerly wisdom (links to both will be below)!! Which tip did you connect with the most? Original Video by Jerry B. Jenkins (#1 New York Times Bestselling Author) | How to Write a Book: 13 Steps from a Bestselling Author Jerry B. Jenkins Website