Publish or Perish


This month, explore your inspiration and commit. Nightstands around Columbia are filled with titles featured at this year’s Unbound Book Festival… Readers are working through their stacks, devouring the words of authors who inspired them in person… And writers are wondering if they have what it takes to join the bedside tower…

Inside Columbia is here to help. This new monthly column, Publish or Perish, will help guide hopeful authors to create a productive writing experience. Between now and the April 2018 Unbound Book Festival, discover what your personal writing journey looks like and seriously consider the destination. Publish or Perish will celebrate large and small victories, from getting the first words on the page all the way to the self-publication or query process.

The first step toward holding your own book is inspiration. If you have a concept already tugging away or you simply have the desire to find it, take a moment to commit. Commit to putting words on paper. Commit to riding the roller coaster to the end — through the rises that build anticipation, the drops that fill writers with excitement and the unexpected turns that will bring forth doubt.

The August assignment is to act on inspiration. Take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Vocalize your commitment to family and friends. Head to the Daniel Boone Regional Library and check out Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones,” Stephen King’s “On Writing” or another book on the craft.

Maneuver your schedule to accommodate the maximum time commitment, whether it is early in the morning, late at night or during your lunch break. Each day can look different, weekends may be different from weekdays or you might always have the same hour or two to yourself. Writing daily is, of course, ideal.

Decide what you are writing.

Have you always had an idea? Run with it.

Are you writing fiction, a memoir, a guide to the best climbing trees of Columbia?

Are you unsure? Decide on something to try. Then begin.

Find out if you are an outliner or if your style is to dive into the thick of it. Try one and then the other. August is a try-it month. Put a notebook and pencil at your bedside, at your breakfast nook, in your back pocket.

As long as you are trying, you are doing.

Allow for unexpected personal evolution. A writer does not have a perfect plan going in, know when words will flow most freely or even what the end result will actually look like. A writer writes.

August is not for researching details, editing or perfection. August might not even be for writing the book. As your guide, I give you permission to unload a variety of brain vomit — the more the better. Don’t worry about finding a writing group, or spend hours online “seeing what is out there.” It is not time for that yet. Write.

Publish or Perish will offer step-by-step guidance and check-ins, along with professional advice from published authors and industry experts. In the end, success will be self-determined, but I hope to bring out the best of all involved.

I look forward to seeing several of you at the finish line — prepared to pursue the old-school agent query route or with book in hand at the 2018 Unbound Book Festival’s Independent Author Fair.

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