Getting started is often the hardest part of anything, whether you are looking to run a marathon or write a book. Writing a book doesn’t need to be hard, but you do need a commitment, some consistency, and a determination to reach the finish line.
If you’ve been contemplating writing a book for some time and are ready to make the leap, here are some tips to take you from idea to print.
Decide What Type of Book You are Writing
Many people have an idea for a book but are unsure of what type of book they are actually writing. For example, if you want to write a children’s book, there’s a big difference in writing for the 4-6 age group compared to a book written for middle-grade readers. Knowing this ahead of time will help make your writing more succinct and clear.
Here’s a shortlist of the various types of book you can write:
- Self-Help/Personal Development
- Personal Story/Memoir
- Anthology/Interview Series
- Children’s Books
- How To/Informational/Instructional
You’ll want to consider who your potential audience and reader will be for your topic, and in what genre those readers are best able to receive your message. A great category that has a lot of potential for crossover is memoir and self-help. If you have a powerful story, you could write your story as a memoir, strictly sharing the details of what happened, how you responded, and indicating how you’ve changed or grown based on those events. You could also turn that same idea and topic into a self-help book by sharing the “7 steps” or “5 tips” of how you overcame that specific life event/story.
It’s important to know what type of book you want to create as this will help with your writing style throughout the process, and will also help you select the best editor for your book.
Once you are clear about who you are writing for and what type of book you are writing, you are ready for the next step.
How to Outline Your Book
It may be possible to write your book without an outline, but most people need a way of getting their ideas down and organizing them in a way that will inspire writing. Too many ideas and not enough direction will cause confusion and overwhelm and will prevent you from sitting down at the keyboard to get those words down on paper.
Outlining your book can be a fun first step to really seeing it on paper. You can create a mock table of contents as a way to begin. You can also use other, more creative and fun ways to see your book. For example, you can create a mind map. A mind map typically starts with a circle in the middle of a page where you can write your book title. Think of a sun with rays of light. You can then draw lines outward from the center of the circle. On each “ray” or line can be a topic you wish to write about in your book.
Then you can create a new sun for each topic and flush out those ideas more. You will end up with a series of mind maps on the various subtopics. Make as many as you can to get a feel for the content you wish to include. You can add to these mind maps when you have creative bursts and additional ideas pop up for you.
If mind maps don’t seem like the right outline method for you, try using a traditional outline (Roman numerals) for your book; however, this is the least recommended process, as it doesn’t always activate the most creative parts of your brain. The flow of mind mapping supports creativity; whereas, a traditional outline may be too rigid for the brain.
Once you completed your outline, it’s now time to write your book.
Making Time to Write Your Book
I mentioned that getting started writing your book is often the most challenging part of the process, and it truly can be. Even though you have a strong desire to write a book, it’s often hard to make the time, create the space, and sit down to write. But let’s face it; if you want to write a book, it has to become a priority in order for it to happen.
Here’s a list of some tips you can do to get started writing:
- Write at the same time and the same place every day
- Get out of your environment and write in a new place
- Turn on music, light some candles, and get into the mood of writing
- Create goals around your writing: by words, chapters, or pages
- Take breaks every thirty minutes and set a timer to enforce a “refresh,” but don’t do something that will distract you from coming back to writing
- Write in short bursts instead of needing large chunks of time (5 minutes while waiting on the doctor’s office, 10 minutes between phone calls)
- Reward yourself for meeting writing goals
- Share your work with a trusted friend
- Join a writing support group—look online to find writer’s groups in your area
- Tell everyone you are writing a book, commit to it out loud, and make them hold you accountable
- Go on a weekend writing retreat or rent a small cabin in a mountain campground for as little as $45 a night, just make sure you don’t have access to the internet or other distractions
- Hire a writing coach for support and accountability
- And if all else fails, find a ghostwriter who can get the book down on paper for you
- Read inspiring books about writing. I write the most when I read about the art of writing itself.
- Write inside, write outside, write in bed, on the couch, at your desk, write wherever you will write
Overall, writing and publishing your book is an incredibly rewarding endeavor. It’s a dream come true for many. If writing a book is something you are serious about, just get started. The words will come. The pieces will fall into place. You can do this one word at a time.