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266 Posts tagged with the book tag

Refresher on IT'S/ITS

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 20, 2018

Are you confused by when to use IT'S and when to use ITS? If so, you have every right to be, because the correct way to use ITS goes against the general rule we're taught about apostrophes. Here's a refresher on the difference between IT'S and ITS:

We normally use an apostrophe when something belongs to someone or something - in other words, to indicate possession:

  • This diary belongs to Daphne.
  • This is Daphne's diary.

  • I like going to that movie theater because the seats there are super comfortable
  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.

However, when something belongs to IT, no apostrophe is needed:

  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.
  • I like going to that movie theater because ITS seats are super comfortable.

  • Daphne's diary has a green cover.
  • That's Daphne's diary, and ITS cover is green.

We also use apostrophes as a contraction for a noun plus the verb IS or HAS:

  • This seat is super comfortable.
  • This seat's super comfortable. (Seat + IS)

  • Gloria has seen that movie three times.
  • Gloria's seen that movie three times. (GLORIA + HAS)

Following the contraction rule for apostrophes, IT'S is used as a contraction for IT IS or IT HAS:

  • IT IS getting dark, so I really should go home.
  • IT'S getting dark, so I really should go home. (IT + IS)

  • Are you okay? IT HAS been weeks since I've heard from you.
  • Are you okay? IT'S been weeks since I've heard from you. (IT + HAS)

Do the above examples make sense? Essentially, ITS as the possessive form of IT is an exception to the rule regarding apostrophes, so it comes down to memorization to get it right.

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

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Two abbreviations that are easy to confuse

Are you making this common grammar mistake?

1,259 Views 10 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, book, self-publishing, writing, grammar, tip, it's_vs_its

Recently, I was driving up the Pacific Coast Highway with my family, and we passed a Maserati... Excuse me, a Maserati passed us. My sister asked no one in particular how much a car like that costs. I responded, "I don't know. The only thing I know about it is that it will go 185 mph." She was skeptical. "How could you possibly know that?" That's when I repeated the lyrics to Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good."


My Maserati does one-eighty-five.

I lost my license, now I don't drive.


That led to a spontaneous group singalong of misquoted lyrics and ended with "Life's been good to me, so far!"

It occurred to me shortly after that, Joe Walsh didn't just write a great song. He wrote a darn good story. In fact, there are several good stories contained within the song. For example, the lyrics above tell you everything you need to know about what transpired without context. He drove his car recklessly. He got caught by the authorities. He lost his license and is unable to drive. Is there more to the story? Yes. Do we need to know the details to be entertained by the story? No.

The lesson here is that good writing is as much about what you don't say as it is about what you do say. The key is to construct the story in a way that doesn't need context. Driving 185 mph is dangerous and illegal. It's not a huge leap to assume that is why Walsh lost his license.

Don't spell things out for your readers. Sometimes it's their job to do that themselves.

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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Show them where to look

Don't insult your readers

986 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, book, writing, storytelling

Word by Word

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 13, 2017

If you haven't read Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's memoir and book on writing, I highly recommend it. The title refers to an incident involving her brother when they were children. He had a report on birds due the next day, and he hadn't written a word. He gathered all his research material and immediately became paralyzed by fear. The enormity of the project just became too much. That's when his father put his arm around him and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."


The second I read that passage I had a moment of clarity that I have never experienced before. I had never heard a more accurate description of how to write a book. It really is that simple. "Bird by bird," or to put it more accurately, word by word.


Writing a book is an enormous task. Even if it is a labor of love, it is still an enormous task. Sometimes, when you're feeling frustrated, it is hard to keep going. Like Anne Lamott's brother, you can become immobilized by the prospect of tackling such a big project. The only thing you can do is take it word by word.


Don't complicate the book writing process. Yes, plot, character development, dialogue, they're all aspects of writing a novel, but when you get down to it, they consist of words, and words are your specialty. They are your purview. Just take a deep breath, picture Anne Lamott's father putting his arm around her terrified brother and saying those magic words, "Bird by bird, buddy."


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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Writing a word a day

Increase your productivity with interval writing

1,037 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: book, publishing, writing, draft, writing_advice

Interested in writing young adult fiction? As someone who has taken a deep dive into the category as an author, here are my unofficial rules when it comes to writing young adult fiction.

1. Don't write for a young adult audience. Yes, you are writing a novel that is primarily for a young adult audience, but if you write with that in mind, you are going to overthink every word you write. If you ever ask yourself if "a young person would say that," you are asking the wrong question. You should only be concerned if your character would say that. Remember, the word "adult" appears in the name of the category. Putting too much emphasis on the "young" part of the name could lead to artificial writing.

2. Write what you would read. Or rather, write what the young adult you would have read. When you explore those topics and memories that appealed to yourself when you were younger, you are going to open a floodgate of nostalgia that will ignite a passion in you as you relive all the hopes and fantasies that gave you endless hours of daydreaming material.

3. Don't write down to your readers. Over using street language and slang leads to two things: Artificial writing and a short shelf life. Every generation develops its own way of communicating through acronyms and words that hold special meaning to that generation. When I was growing up, if something was great, it was totally boss. That phrase essentially means nothing today. Stick to standard English as much as possible. Don't exclude all slang. Just use it sparingly. 

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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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What is a young adult novel?

The "rules" of the young adult novel

1,543 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, book, writing, fiction, young_adult, writing_tips, fiction_writing

If you want people to discover your books, you should do everything you can to make yourself easy to find online. I frequently receive emails from authors who are despondent over poor book sales, but when I look to see what kind of a digital footprint the authors have, all too often I find nothing, not even an Amazon Author Page.

I understand that not everyone has the resources to hire a designer for a fancy website, but here are several things all authors can do that cost nothing more than time and energy:

1)    Complete your Amazon Author Page. If you have a book on Amazon, you have an author page, which appears via a hyperlink to your name under the title of your book on the book's detail page. If you don't fill the page in with your bio, headshot, contact information, etc., visitors will see only a list of your work. To edit your Author Page, create an account in Amazon's Author Central by clicking on this link. (Here's my Amazon Author Page.)

2)    Set up a Facebook author page. (Here's my Facebook author page.)

3)    Set up a Twitter account. (Here's mine.)

4)    Set up a Goodreads page. (Here's mine.)

5)    Set up a LinkedIn account. (Here's mine.)

If you look at the links I've shared here, you'll see my profile/bio/tagline in each one is essentially the same. It shouldn't take hours to set up these accounts. The key is to prepare your basic materials first, then insert them as necessary across various channels.

You never know which potential readers might be looking for you, or where they might inadvertently stumble across you. What you should know is that if your digital footprint is nowhere to be found, the chance of anyone's finding you is zero, and zero is not a good number for sales.

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

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Marketing Tip: Set up an Author Page on Amazon

Book marketing tip: Put a sample on Goodreads

1,278 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, book, writing, facebook, goodreads, twitter, digital_footprint


I get it. You want success now. You want to sell books by the truckload tomorrow. You want to wake up in the morning and find your name on a best sellers list. You will search the Internet far and wide looking for the magic marketing formula that will put you over the top. Your day job? In the rearview mirror. You want to be a full-time author, not just a weekend writer, a midnight scribe. You want writing to pay the bills.

Here's my advice. Slow down. I've seen too many writers burn themselves out trying to stay one step ahead of the game. Victories are more likely to come in the form of small steps rather than huge leaps in this industry. Your best course of action is to enjoy the journey and not focus on where you're headed. You will get there when you get there.

You are not in a competition with anyone but yourself. Remember that. We tend to look at other authors' successes and wonder, Why not me? Think of a book the same way you think of a viral video. There's usually no amount of manipulation that will force a video to go viral. It happens when the right material finds the right audience and strikes an emotional chord. The same is true with an indie book. It becomes a best seller when it finds the right audience and strikes an emotional chord. That emotional response is what creates a best seller. You can't make that happen.

Your best course of action is to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep your social media outreach in a constant state of growth. Oh, and above all, take pleasure in the journey. Don't burn yourself out trying to reach your destination.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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How to find success





16,292 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: book, writers, revisions, writing, drafts, social_media, writing_advice

You CAN write a book

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 26, 2016

This morning I received an email that made me smile...or maybe even grin. It was from an aspiring author named Becca. In particular, I loved this part of her message:

"Reading through your blog has been very educational and exciting for me. I love all your knowledge, advice, and mostly your encouragement to not give up when it gets hard. I don't expect that starting into this will be easy; however, I think it will be so fun to try! My husband and my kids are all very much on board and supportive."

Go Becca! I love her positive attitude. And to all the Beccas out there reading this, you CAN write a book! No, it's not easy, but yes, it's fun to try. And at the end of the day that's all it really comes down to--trying. And trying. And trying! If you keep pushing yourself forward, day after day, week after week, eventually you'll have a book. It may not be very good, but that's okay. My first effort wasn't very good either. But once I had that first draft, I went back and rewrote it a few times, and that part was fun. In my experience, editing and tweaking is always more enjoyable than coming up with something from scratch.


Writing an entire book takes discipline--and patience. It's not going to happen overnight. Focusing on moving the story forward little by little will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. And then one day, after many days of plodding along, your manuscript will be done. Done! If you're like me, when that happens you'll probably take a step back from your keyboard, exhale, and ask yourself, "Did I really just do that? How did I do that?"

Then, you'll do a little dance and go celebrate!


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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Writing Tip: Stay Committed to the Process


Writing Tip: Keep the Story Moving Forward





2,066 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: book, author, self-publishing, blogging, writing, promotions, writing_process, author_tips

I have a book that will be released in July of 2016, and it's a bit of a different experience for me than my previous publishing adventures because I have no immediate plans to release it in print. Long story short, this is a team project, and I don't have the final say on the format. Hopefully, I can expand it into print, but for now, I have to think strictly eBook.


That is a bit of a mind shift for me. For a number of years, I have been doing releases in both eBook and print formats. The print copies have always been an easy marketing tool for me. I could take a number of copies with me to appearances or events and devise giveaways to boost enthusiasm for a new release. Online marketing is great, but the personal appearance is still king when it comes to connecting with readers.


I have committed to doing a book launch for this new eBook release that involves a personal appearance, and it has presented me with a bit of a puzzle. How do I get people excited at an appearance when I won't have a book to appear with?


At a recent workshop for playwrights, as I watched staged readings of other writers' work, it hit me. I don't need the book. I just need the story. I went home and hammered out a plan for an appearance that involves short dramatic readings of chapters using local actors. I will involve other writers I know to adapt and direct the material for these staged readings. I'll incorporate door prizes that fit the theme of the book for the audience. I'll make it an invitation-only intimate affair with a number of nonprofessional social media savvy friends in attendance. I have to say it is the first of my appearances that will be more about the people attending and performing than it will be about me, and I'm so excited by that. They will take ownership of my story, and the marketing of the eBook. My hope is that it will translate into a frontloaded wave of word-of-mouth buzz that will grow over time.


Don't ditch the personal appearance if you're planning an eBook-only release. Find a way to get attendees at the event engaged and enthusiastic, so they will spread the word via their social media platforms.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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How to Make a Personal Appearance a Success

How to Make an Author Event Eventful

2,033 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, book, print, kindle, ebook, craft, online_marketing, book_launch, book_launch_party

Read and Report

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 4, 2015

I saw the following meme today, and it spoke to me: "Don't be afraid of artists who are better than you." I support the sentiment wholeheartedly, and I'm also puzzled that such a thing needs to be stated. The idea of comparing one's artistic talents with another's is foreign to me. It's a great big world, and there's room for all of us.


The meme actually ties in with the post I had planned to write today, so thanks be to serendipity. Instead of fearing other artists--authors in our case--whom you feel are better than you, be inspired by them. Be grateful for them. Envy is not a useful motivator; it's a step towards cynicism, which is not fertile ground for creativity.


Here's an assignment to help you gain perspective. Pick an author whom you feel has mastered his or her craft. Take your favorite book by that author and pick it apart. Examine every aspect of the story and analyze it. Set aside some time each week to report to your online community what you've discovered about this virtuoso. Encourage feedback. If you find weaknesses, point them out. No writer is perfect. Criticizing someone who inspires you is healthy. Personally, I love the imperfections as much as the perfections.


We aren't individual writers trying to make our way as authors. We are a community of artists supporting and learning from one another. Don't look at other writers as competitors; look at them as teachers. Take advantage of the lessons they offer.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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You Are an Artist

Four Steps to Become More Creative

1,451 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, revisions, feedback, creativity, criticism, writing_tips, author_tips

I have homework for you. You can choose to do it or not, but I strongly believe that if you do, it will help you be a better writer. You will practice your craft with a confidence you had not previously known. You will feel an artistic self-worth that will bolster you from word to word as you write your next masterpiece. This isn't a magic assignment. It is one that will simply force you to dive deep into your belief system and examine your internal writer's creed. In short, your assignment, should you choose to accept it, will be incredibly rewarding.


Here's the assignment. Imagine, if you will, that you are a teacher, and you've been asked to develop a syllabus for a class on how to be a successful novelist. You won't just be teaching your students about writing, although that will be a part of it. You will be teaching them about rewriting, editing, branding, marketing, etc. Anything and everything you can think of that makes up the job of today's novelist.


Here's the best part, you get to decide which section counts the most in your fictional class. You have 100% autonomy on this project because you aren't required to show it to anyone. This is simply an assignment to suss out what you truly think makes a novelist.


Now, if you so choose, you could take it one step further and actually put the syllabus to use. You could contact your local library and volunteer to teach a course on how to be a novelist using your syllabus as a guide, but that's not necessary to achieve the ultimate goal here, which is for the novelist to know thyself.


Now, go forth and develop your syllabus. Know thyself.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Consciousness-something within oneself-awareness:

What is it to be a true writer?

2,542 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, selling, book, author, novels, craft, branding, social_media, author_brand, writing_tips, writing_advice, writing_practice

It's reminder time. We discuss author brands on this blog quite a bit and strategies on how to build that brand. There's a lot of focus on social media and creating a community. We talk about personal videos, book signings, fan interaction, etc. There are numerous ways to build brand awareness.


But perhaps what we don't talk about enough is what the foundation for your brand should be. True, there are numerous considerations to take into account when you look at building your brand: genre expectations, reader demographics, the core of your platform, etc. Those are all things that will help you shape the message on which your brand is built, but they aren't the foundation of your brand. There is one simple factor you must use as the foundation for your brand. This one element is indestructible. If you put your artistic heart and soul into this one component, everything else you do is window dressing that simply complements it.


What is the one thing? Good writing. If you commit to perfecting your craft each and every time you sit down to write, your brand will be as solid as Mount Everest. Good writing--or better yet, great writing--is the key to giving you the will to put all the other pieces of a brand into place over the course of your career. If you find your voice as an artist, you will find your voice as a brand, and you can only find that voice through committing to becoming a better writer each time you set out to write.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Branding 101: The Keys to Successful Branding

Branding vs. Marketing for Authors

2,510 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, book, author, self-publishing, publishing, brand, branding, platform, author_brand, marketing_strategy, brand_awareness

Today's post is a bit different than ones I've done in the past. It's a request to my fellow indie authors. I know the struggles first-hand that you experience trying to bring attention to your brand and generate sales for your book. It's hard, relentless work that takes stamina and sustained energy to find success. We authors are constantly looking for angles to increase sales and find our marketing groove.


The one angle that I highly recommend staying away from is utilizing a tragedy to shift attention to your book. I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about without naming names. A gentleman has a talk show where he frequently interviews people who've undergone unspeakably horrible events in their lives. On occasion, when a particular event fits the theme for a book he's written, he will overtly suggest that the audience should buy the book on his website. I have no doubt that he generates sales this way, but it is the grossest form of marketing. And, in my view, it stamps his brand with a severe lack of tact and ethics.


You most likely don't have a TV show to compete with this gentleman's outreach, but you do have a forum. You have your social network. If you plug a book in a thread about a national tragedy because you feel the subject matter fits your book's storyline, you invite a string of moral indignation and run the risk of severely damaging your brand. So, my request is that you don't do it. Avoid the temptation to grab that kind of marketing opportunity. You will feel better about yourself for doing so.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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How Not to Market

Use Common Sense in Book Promotion

3,107 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, book, author, promotion, book_marketing, promotions, branding, social_media, marketing_strategy, marketing_tip

I have learned over the years that there is a somewhat murky divide in this, the community of novelists. On one side, you have the group that counts themselves as writers. Prose is pieced together with painstaking precision. On the other side there are those that count themselves as storytellers. Here a clever plot structure is valued most. I am of the belief that one style is not better than the other. Both have their readership, and both contribute important works to the world of literature.


So what are you? Writer? Storyteller? Or are you that rarest of animals, both? Here are the distinctions as I seem them.


  • Writer - Think Herman Melville. Think William Faulkner, James Joyce, David Foster Wallace, etc. Writers challenge the reader, not with intricate plots and unexpected twists, but with language and deeply philosophical passages. There is usually more than one meaning to even the simplest of sentences. The writer plants a hidden message within the unfolding story and isn't terribly concerned if the reader ever finds it. The writer's love for words is usually apparent in the way they express themselves on the page.

  • Storyteller - Think Stephen King, Dan Brown, John Grisham, James Patterson, etc. Where writers construct dense prose, storytellers often craft twisting plots with layers of engaging complexity. The language used is, for the most part, simple and straightforward, and the passages rarely wade too deeply into the literary waters. The storyteller loves to enthrall the reader with the unexpected conclusion that leaves them awed and breathless.

I don't mean to say that writers aren't good storytellers and vice versa. I think there is plenty of crossover, but I do think when an author sits down to write a book, they approach it from one of these two vantage points. So, what say you? From which vantage point do you approach a book?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.





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Storyteller vs. Writer

Write without Judgment

4,410 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: books, book, author, writers, publishing, writing, story, storyteller, telling, writing_advice

You've given away proofs. Now it's time to pick a release date. This is the target where you'll concentrate all your initial marketing hoopla. It will feature an explosion of fanfare and excitement.


Here are five items to keep in mind when planning your release date:


  1. "Release date" does not mean the day it is available for sale ? Much like a brick-and-mortar store does a soft-opening before a grand opening, I recommend doing a soft-release before your official release date. Make the official release date the focus of your marketing (advertising, interviews, press release, etc.), but keep the soft-release as inside information for your online community. When the book is available for sale, send out a breaking news announcement alerting them to buy, buy, buy before the official release date.

  2. Avoid the temptation to just get the book out there. Look for a date on your calendar that is relevant to you, to the book, or to the season. I know you're anxious to get reader feedback, but there may be an invaluable marketing hook that you're squandering in your desire to make the book available ASAP. Think as a marketer, not as an author.

  3. When the release date arrives, take to social media like an author possessed. Pin, tweet, update, blog, and vlog your heart out. Be excited. Be humble. Be grateful.

  4. Use your volunteer sales force (readers) to help get the word out. Find some way to reward them within your means. If that's simply a heartfelt public thank you, share it with the world. If you have deeper pockets, go as deep as you can. It is a gesture they are not likely to forget or let go unnoticed.

  5. Track your sales for the day for no other reason than to evaluate your marketing strategy for the release. If sales are good to great, you have a formula you can repeat for the next book. If sales didn't reach expectations, a new direction is in order. Pick your strategy apart and pinpoint what caused you to fall short.


We will get into more detail on item five next week when we examine your final marketing stage, the postmortem.

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.




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Stage Two of Marketing a Book: Outreach

Stage Three of Marketing - Proof Giveaway

3,806 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, selling, book, author, self-publishing, writers, writing, book_marketing, promotions

Last week I went out for a drink with a friend of mine who works in finance. His career is based on facts and figures, so he's fascinated that mine relies entirely on my imagination. How do you write an entire book? He wanted to know. How does it work?


I explained to him that often when I'm working on a manuscript I don't exactly know what I'm doing or where I'm going, but that I keep at it day after day, week after week, and eventually things begin to fall into place. Things rarely unfold the way I think they will at the onset, but I have to just go with it – and stick with it – and see what happens over time.


He nodded and made a simple yet profound statement: "So, you just commit to the process."


Yes, I commit to the process.


So much about writing a book is just sticking with it over time. Much like losing a significant amount of weight, crafting an entire novel isn't going to happen overnight, or in a few days, weeks, or even months. But if you want to be an author you can't give up, no matter how much you may want to. If you want to reach the end line, you have to stay committed to the process.


When my friend made his comment he was simply trying to wrap his head around what goes into writing a book, but I'm grateful to him for the clarity he brought to my profession. To write a book you have to just sit down and do it. You won't write the whole thing today, and on some days you won't write much at all, but if you keep at it, eventually you'll get there.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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A Resolution Writing Prompt

Discipline to Write

4,235 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, book, writing_tips
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