When I turned forty two years old I had a midlife crisis. I don't think there is anything unusual about that, a lot of people my age start to take the time to look at their life, and the things they wanted to accomplish and realize that maybe their life has not taken them where they want to go.
For me, I realized that my life was probably a little more than half over and I had not done one thing I had always wanted to do. I wanted to write a book. The problem was that I had no idea what was needed to write a book or how I would even go about publishing a book.
Since I am a geek the first thing I did was look for books on writing. It occurred to me that years earlier I had read a book by Stephen King called On Writing. At the time I read it I thought that it was an interesting read, but I set it aside when I had finished and went on to reading other books.
I figured this was a good time to reread On Writing. Sometimes in life I make really good choices and this was one of them. I reread On Writing and this time I really focused on what Stephen King had to say about writing.
The book opened my eyes. If I wanted to be a writer I needed to start writing. I always have ideas for stories bouncing around in my head, but I had never bothered to put any of them on paper. At that point I set two goals for myself.
The first goal was to write at least one thousand words per day. This was easier said than done. I work a full time job and have a family. For good writing you need to carve out some time for yourself.
I decided I would do this every morning on my commute to work. I take Caltrain from San Jose to San Francisco each morning. This proved to be the perfect time for me to write. Most of the time I can get the thousand words done in under the hour that the train ride takes. Sometimes I would finish right as the train pulled into the station, but I would not stop writing until I got the thousand words.
The second goal I set for myself was to finish a novel. I looked online to find out what the best word count was for a first time writer and the consensus was eighty thousand words. So I would limit my novel to eighty thousand words. Looking back I wish I hadn't done that because I feel the ending of the book was a little rushed since I was trying not to go over the eighty thousand words, but other than that I did finish the novel.
Along the way I also wrote a few short stories and found that I truly enjoy writing. I am very happy with how my novel turned out and I have a second one finished that I need to start reading for the first pass at editing.
For anyone else that wants to write a novel, or has an idea bouncing around in their head the only advice I would give is to just start writing. If it worked for me it can work for you. Good luck!