The writing life isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not easy, no matter how much you romanticize it. It’s not fun, because just when you think you’ve found your muse, your thoughts explode in a hundred directions and you’re left to wander for pages on end, until you find your way again. It’s scary, because people will read those words you managed to put into print and imagine what they would have said in a better way. Like armchair quarterbacks, they are poised to tell you how the game should have been played, how your manuscript should have been written. So why do you do it? In part, you write because you’ve been able to answer one important question. “So what?”

Whatever your book idea may be, whatever your experience is, the first big question to ask yourself is “So what?” Take a look at your book idea list and before you spend time framing a chapter or creating an outline, ask yourself what is it about this idea that will make any difference? After that, look at how you plan to get there. How do you write your book so that the So What solution is clear and benefits every person who reads your work?

Let’s look at a few of the “so what” kinds of questions you might want to ask yourself.

So what makes this a good book idea, and why do I believe people should read the book?

So what makes this book inspire, or motivate readers?

So what background should I have to be able to write this book well?

So what about doing this book excites me enough to want to spend hours and hours writing, rewriting, editing, and writing some more?

So what kind of research do I need to do to add authenticity to my work?

So what is the one thing I want readers to understand, feel, or remember, once they have read the book?

So what am I willing to do to help make the book a market success?

You might toss around the “so what” questions with your friends or your writing groups. It’s worth getting as much clarity as possible right up front.

Inspiration will get you started as you build on your idea but knowing what you want the result to be will help you stay the course. You can take a variety of paths as long as you know where you want to end up. Actually, that’s what makes the writing journey worthwhile.

Oh, and I was only kidding when I said writing wasn’t fun!