How did you manage to write your first book? What kind of hurdles did you experience? I ask this as someone who has a burning desire to write a book (whether it gets published or not is beside the point), but who can’t seem to get past "chapter 1."
How did I manage to write my first book? The only way anybody can. I sat down and wrote it one page at a time. Lots of people think they would like to write a book. They think about it, they talk about it, they just never do it. So the first rule is, plant your behind in the chair and write. If you write one page per day, you’ll have a 365 page manuscript at the end of one year. Look at it in small bites, and it will make it easier.
I was a single mom of two pre-teen daughters when I wrote my first book. I had a full time day job. I wrote evenings and weekends. Almost nobody had computers back then (and what they did have were mostly glorified typewriters); I certainly didn’t have one. I wrote long hand on legal pads, then typed the pages on the office typewriter during coffee breaks and lunch hours. (I still have the onion skin carbon copies of my first books!) Eventually, I established a routine of writing from 7-9 pm, Mon-Thu, and on Saturday mornings. Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, and Sundays were reserved for family time.
It took me from March through November to write my first novel. Then I bought myself a copy of The Writers’ Market and studied how to market a book to publishers.
It isn’t common for writers to sell their first books. It happens but it isn’t the norm. I did sell mine to a small publisher who paid me peanuts, but it was a start. That first book was published in 1984. I wrote nine more novels over nine years before I quit my day job to write full time. That was 15 years ago this month. A lot has changed in publishing since then. (A lot has changed about me since then. Yikes!) And yet, publishing still remains much the same, too.
I relate to your comment of "whether it gets published or not." Back when I was writing that first book, I was counseling with my pastor and he asked what else was going on in my life at the time. I told him I was writing a novel, and he asked, "Why?" My answer: "To see if I can do it." I don’t think I gave publishing much thought while I wrote it. I’m sure I did think it would be published (remember, I was pretty ignorant of the truths of publishing), but that wasn’t the primary reason for writing it. I just had a story burning inside me to be told, and I had to tell it. I couldn’t help myself. I just had to write it.
What kind of hurdles did you experience [in writing my first book]? Well, in some ways, I was lucky that there wasn’t an easily found community of writers the way there is these days. I wrote my novel in blissful ignorance for the sheer joy of storytelling. I didn’t know any of the "rules" that abound in genre publishing. I knew what I liked to read (historical sagas) and I knew what I didn’t like (gratuitous sex and violence), so I wrote the novel I would want to read. It was very flawed (heavy on adjectives and adverbs with more than one contrivance or two, not to mention holes in my plot), but because I "wrote my passion," I think the storytelling overcame those problems and helped it to sell.
FTM is someone "who can’t seem to get past "chapter 1." There can be many reasons for this, and it isn’t an uncommon problem. Usually, it’s a combination of more than one thing. Fear of failure. Fear of not knowing what you’re doing. Perfectionism. Lack of self-discipline. Many writers block themselves by trying so hard to get every paragraph perfect before they move on. FTM, if you are stuck at chapter one, I highly recommend that you force yourself not to self-edit the first draft. Write fast and don’t look back. Let the words pour out onto the paper in whatever condition they want to come out. You can’t fix/edit anything until it is actually written. As long as it is only in your head, there isn’t anything that can be either perfect or imperfect about it. So don’t stop to edit and change. Just write, write, write.
Most novelists have a set word or page goal per day. You don’t have to be published with a deadline for that to be a good habit to get into. Tell yourself you will write one or two pages per day, no matter what. Sit down at your computer and stay there until those pages are done. Give your imagination freedom to play.
I hope you find some of this helpful.
Finally, check out my post of 11/20/2004, Getting Published 101. You might find some help there, too.