The secret sauce for writing your book is in your refrigerator.
It’s whatever you like to drink to stay hydrated while you write. I’m assuming you keep it in the refrigerator.
If you were thinking I would share some magic recipe, or a whispered secret about writing that you’ve never heard before, you were wrong. Because there is no secret sauce. If there were, we’d all be Stephen King, or Elizabeth Gilbert, or Seth Godin.
At the moment I’m drinking a soft drink in a plastic cup, with a straw. I avoid soft drinks, but today I had a craving. I also ate ice cream, which I don’t do very often. It’s one of those days where I have a lot swirling around in my brain, and if I don’t pause every few hours to treat myself to something nice, I’ll probably explode.
This week I’ve been reading a Stephen King book. A book of short stories. If you’re at all like me you don’t just sit in a comfy chair or lounge on your bed, book propped open on your lap, and consume the story. If you’re at all like me, you take the story apart, page by page, word by word, idea by idea. Because, contained within the books we read, is the real secret sauce for writing your book.
In this particular book, King introduces each story with a page or page and a half of introduction by himself. He tells you why he wrote the story. He reveals little insights about how and why he wrote the story. I admit I did not need those bits of introduction. I would have preferred to just read the stories. However, in defense of King, one of my favorite writers, the stories in the book weren’t all the same – what I mean is, he used several different writing styles and tones to compose the stories and he was being kind to the reader in sharing the reasons or ideas behind each one.
I got it. It was okay. But, when I picked up the book, I wanted a book of stories by Stephen King that would make me quiver, sigh, and maybe be reluctant to turn the light out, before pulling the covers up over my head.
That’s not what I got. In fact, I often stopped in the middle of a story, put the book away, and turned off the light to drift into sleep, without a worry.
And still, the stories, the book, the author, have contributed to the secret sauce for writing your book, this week. Because I did what I usually do – I paid attention to the sentences, the words, the dialogue. I allowed myself to wonder, “Why did he say this? Why was that paragraph so much longer than the three before? Is it effective that way?”
My desire to be entertained by Stephen King was successful. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything I didn’t like, that he wrote. However, in this book of short stories, I was treated to more than an evening or two of entertainment – despite my disappointment in not being given the willies by the content. I was treated to a variety of writing styles and plots I wasn’t expecting. And, this allowed me to be more studious in my reading. It allowed me to think as much about the writing as the story, itself.
Each of us has to be committed to learning, on a daily basis. If we are to be successful writers, if as writers we are to be taken seriously, we have to improve our narrative skills, our reading skills, our story telling skills, and our critical review skills. Each one of those skills must be part of the secret sauce for writing your book. Because each one contributes something different but important to the overall success of your book.
I thank Stephen King for writing this book and for sharing his insights into each story. He’s truly a remarkable man. Not just as a writer, but as someone who became a #1 best selling author and who took that responsibility back to sharing personal stories about himself and his writing, with his audience.
It’s called giving back and I don’t think anyone does it better than Stephen King.
If you are truly seeking the secret sauce for writing your book, look no further than your own heart and soul. It’s there.
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