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Advice for Writers

I’ve been asked several times recently about advice I would give to those who want to begin writing. Here is a list of “Do Not’s” for writers:

  1. Do not wait for inspiration. Just start writing. Your inspiration will come while you are writing.
  2. Do not follow someone else’s rhythm. Find your own. Some people say, “Write a little bit every day.” Others say, “Get up early in the morning and write an hour before you do anything else.” Neither of those work for me. I have to block large amounts of time and turn everything else off. Figure out what works for you and then schedule around it.
  3. Do not write in order to become famous. There are more than 2.2 million books published each year. In the United States alone, there is a book published every 96 seconds. How many of those authors have you heard of?
  4. Do not write to get rich. Very few authors do. In 2004, there were 1.2 million books published, and 950,000 (80%) sold fewer than 99 copies. With the proliferation of digital content, I would guess it is even lower now.
  5. Do not expect everyone to read your book. Writing a book is kind of like having a baby, and at times it will feel like some people don’t want to see your baby. Truthfully, they don’t. But don’t focus on those who don’t read it. Write for those who are interested in your content.
  6. Do not think that giving your book to someone for free will increase the chances they will read it.
  7. Do not write a book to fill a niche in the market. By time you publish it, the niche will be gone. Rather, write out of your passion.
  8. Do not wait for a publisher. Begin writing for blogs, articles or e-books. Begin building an audience around delivering great content to people. The more value you add to people, the more they will follow and crave your content.
  9. Do not become a pimp. We know you believe strongly in the content of your book, and you wrote it in order to help or entertain others–but let your readers carry most of the promotion.
  10. Do not pay attention too much to writers who publish “Do Not” lists with advice for writers (i.e. “me”). Just because it’s true for them, doesn’t mean it will be for you.

That’s my list. What would you add or subtract?

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Tim Stevens served as the executive pastor of Granger Community Church in Granger, IN, for twenty years before joining Vanderbloemen Search Group as the Director of the Executive Search Consultant Team where he helps churches and ministries around the world find their key staff. Tim has a passion for the local church and equipping leaders with practical advice and tools about church staffing and church leadership. He has co-authored three books with Tony Morgan, including Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers, and Simply Strategic Growth, and authored three books of his own, including Fairness Is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles To Revolutionize Your Workplace. Connect with Tim at LeadingSmart.com.