Has your book, as yet unwritten, been nagging at you for years? Why not make this year (or whenever you happen upon this blog) the time you get that pesky book written and completed?

Back in 1997, I wrote a rough draft of a novel, titled Mystical Bodies. It took me about a year to write, and then I abandoned the project and, instead, completed Are You EVER Going to be Thin? (and other stories), which was published in 2004.

I just couldn't seem to get back to Mystical Bodies. It stunk, and I knew it; in so many ways, MB is not fully realized and rather wooden in its tone, among other flaws.

However, I plan to post this 1997 draft here. I don't mind offering this draft to readers because I plan to re-envision and rewrite it off-line; I'm hoping that the act of posting it will offer me an incentive to get started on what, essentially, will be a new novel.

Meanwhile, for you, I will offer tips for writing a book of your own, starting with

Writing Tip 1: Getting Started.

Writing Tip 2: Exercise Regularly

Yep. You read that title right.

So what does physical exercise have to do with writing a book?

A lot.

Regular exercise will accomplish two benefits:
1. You will have more energy to write.
When you raise your metabolism, you also increase your energy levels. Also, sitting at the computer all day can make you sluggish and even drain your creativity, so the 30-45 minutes of daily exercise will pay off.
2. You will maintain your weight better.
Writing is a very sedentary activity. If you plant that butt on your chair for hours on end without compensating for "butt spread," the pounds will creep on and the spare tire around your middle will inflate. I know this from personal experience ;=)
I'm not going to tell you what exercises you should be doing--this is not an exercise blog--but I can tell you that power walking helps me. It's simple and can be done anywhere. My only expenditure: a pair of good walking shoes.

I have a personal in-home treadmill (1997 model), which helps during inclement weather, but if you can't afford to buy expensive equipment, then walking at your local indoor mall can be an option.

As I said, my personal exercise program might not be what you need or want to do. If nothing really appeals to you, simply unplant your rear from your chair every few hours and just walk around your house and stretch.

My advice to normally sedentary writers: Keep your exercise plan short, simple, and stupid--and secondary to your goal of writing that Great American Book.

If not, your book might end up being about your trials and tribulations in preparing for a 500-mile marathon.

Writing Tip 1--Just Get Started

So you, and about 50 million other writers, want to write a book.

Where to start?

I assume that you already have a book project in mind; if not, do some brainstorming to figure out your topic--whether you plan to write The Great American Novel or the Great American Tell-All Memoir. It helps to have a rough plot and some of the main characters/players in mind.

Make a commitment to write at least five days a week, a minimum of one hour per day (more if you have decided that writing is your full time job).

Each day, park yourself in front of your computer, open your word processing program or blog, and start tapping.

It's just that simple.

At least in the beginning, don't get all hung up on quality, craft, creativity, or even the basics of writing, such as spelling or syntax; those concerns will come later, during the final drafting and editing stages.

The truth is, writing a book involves a lot of rough drafts, false starts, and crap writing. That's okay. Sometimes, one just has to mine tons of rock to find a a one-carat jewel.

Lit happens, but rarely in a straight forward, linear fashion.

Like any new activity, it takes a while to develop good writing habits.

But keep this in mind: an average book consists of 40,000 to 100,000 words, 200-500 pages.

On average, writers can produce about five pages of rough draft material (about 1,000 words) per day. Occasionally, there may be a writer who creates masterpieces at a break neck pace, but he or she is not you or I.

So roll up your sleeves and start tapping away, even if you have to begin by copying the dictionary.