What and arrogant title for a blog post. As if I have all the wisdom in the world to tell you how to write a book. Well, maybe I don’t have all the wisdom in the world, but I have now completed writing my first book and wanted to share some insights from my writing process while they are fresh. I share these ideas knowing full well that every writer is unique and that everyone’s process will be different. Hopefully, someone who is an aspiring writer will find one or two of these tidbits to be useful
1. Make the time and get started: if you are planning on writing a book and work 80 hours a week, good luck. As a very busy person myself, I took the time that I was normally writing my blog each week to work on the book. As I got going, I realized that writing 3500 words each week required more time and I had to make sure I had this carved into my calendar to make this possible.
2. Have an outline and a plan – nothing is more frustrating than sitting down to write and staring at a blank screen with no idea where to get started. If you take the time to plan the outline of your book with key chapter topics decided in advance, things will go much more smoothly. As you approach each chapter, take the time to think about the format and structure. If you develop a pattern for the writing, it will become a labor of love and not a chore.
3. Find a place and time – this was one of the most important parts of my process. I found that writing in a specific chair (a really comfortable one) in my basement every Saturday morning worked best for me. I was fresh after a good night’s sleep and did not have the pressure of a busy work day staring me in the face. By writing in the same place every week, my mind and body got into a writing rhythm more quickly as I sat down to begin the process.
4. Write about what you know and are passionate about – while there are authors that can do phenomenal research about topics they knew nothing about before writing their book, they almost always have a passion for their subject. In my case, I found that writing a book about a topic that I knew something about and that I was passionate about made the writing much easier. People will also pay more attention to non-fiction books written by people who can write credibly about a subject they know something about.
5. Maintain a discipline – if you are going to write well, you have to do it a lot. I found that committing to a specific time each week and sticking to the plan made all the difference. A book will not write itself and one of the best ways to get past “writer’s block” is to simply sit down and start writing every time you have planned to do it. While writing is certainly a creative exercise it is also a personal discipline. Once you have done this for a few weeks in a row, it will become a good habit in your life and will not seem burdensome at all. You might even start looking forward to this “sacred” time each week.
6. Include narrative – I found that including a great story in each chapter made the writing go much more smoothly. As I recalled the events from the past, they came alive on paper and were fun to write about. It really is true that people remember the stories we tell much more that the facts we share. Taking stories and building out from there by sharing key principles that you have learned is a great way to keep your reader engaged.
7. Write with the reader in mind – this may sound obvious, but it is amazing how easy it is to write something that is meaningful to you, but may not make sense to anyone else. A helpful tip that I got from Rob Eager, author of Selling Your Book Like Wildfire, was to always remind myself of the questions that my readers would be asking like, “What is in this for me?” or “Why should I spend my precious time reading this book?” As I did that, it helped me to focus on making my book as useful and interesting as possible.
One final thing – writing a book is hard work and is not for everyone. It also may not be the right time in your life to contemplate doing it. I realized that I needed to write my blog for a while and hone my writing skills before I could ever tackle writing a full length book. It took me five years to get to this point. That said, if you do decide to do it, it can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you will ever put your heart, mind, body and soul into. Go for it.