Sue Monk Kidd’s tips for writing your first book

Sue Monk Kidd
“Writing [a book] takes discipline,” Sue Monk Kidd advises.
Credit: Roland Scarpa
Writing a book. So many people have this on their bucket list but have no idea how to go about actually doing it. Hearing about the J.K. Rowlings of the world who make millions off their first attempt sure is inspiring, but is it likely?

It happens, and you don’t have to be a career writer for it to happen to you. Sue Monk Kidd didn’t publish her first book, “Secret Life of Bees,” until she was 53 years 0ld, and she got to live every author’s dream by having it land on the New York Times Best Sellers List and turned into a blockbuster film. Her new book, “The Invention of Wings,” also became a best seller after early rave reviews and an endorsement from Oprah.

“When I started writing fiction, I told myself I would give myself seven years to really learn [how to do it]. Historically, that’s how long someone worked as an apprentice to learn a skill, so that’s why I decided to give myself that amount of time.” During this time, Kidd immersed herself in studying the elements of great fiction and surrounding herself by good fiction writers, soaking up everything they could teach her.

To find her own voice rather than emulating others, Kidd started writing every day. To write her book, she truly treated it as her career, working on it from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week. “I think writers have their own ways of approaching their work and they are very different. You have to find what works for you,” she says.

Regardless of the routine you set for yourself, Kidd stresses that writing a book takes discipline. There will be times when you don’t feel like writing, but if you don’t push through, it will never get done.

“You have to believe in your vision and be committed to it,” Kidd says. “When I started writing, I committed myself to it because it was my passion and I knew it was what I wanted to do. Allow yourself the freedom to find what fascinates you and really believe in that.”

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence



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