The Easy 3-Step process for writing a book

The Easy 3-Step process for writing a book

 

Most people believe that the hardest part of being a published author is getting published.  Well, it’s not. The hardest part is actually writing the book.  In this article, I will explain the simple steps to writing a book.

As a writer myself, I can tell you right off the bat that the hardest part of being a writer is the actual writing.  You have to invest your time, your soul, and every other part of you into your work.  When I started, I had a tough time just deciding if I wanted to start with fiction or nonfiction.

I started thinking about writing about 30 years ago when I was on my third submarine.  My life was one adventure after another, and I had stories I wanted to tell.  Now that I have published a few books, I can see that writing is much different than I expected.

The first thing I learned was you must be invested in what you are doing.  I started with a thought, and then a sentence.  Then you might have a totally different thought, and you write that down.  Now you have a paragraph, and if all goes well, a chapter.  You can’t force it. It’s a delicate, time-honored process.

It’s really not as complicated a process as people think.  You just have to take a step in the right direction, and then another.  Before you know it, you will have written something that you can be proud of.  As I said, I have been there, and as I look back, I can see all the potholes I stepped in.

The real way to write a book

In this article, I will walk you through the steps that you must take to write a book. These steps are broken down and written so that they will be easy to understand and follow. If all goes well, you will soon on your way to joining the ranks of published authors!

So, without further ado, let’s talk about writing a book. Basically, there are three steps:

  • Getting Started: You have had an idea for a while now, but now its time to start writing. It sounds simple, but its an important step. You have to decide on what you are going to write, and how to write it.
  • Staying on Track: Once you begin to write, you must stay motivated. If you lose sight of what you are doing, you can derail the entire process. You need to plan ahead for all of these things so that you’re writing time is productive time.
  • Finishing: Readers won’t care about your book that was almost written. They want to see your finished work. It doesn’t matter how many books you started, just the ones that you completed. Keep your eyes on the prize!

Now, let’s talk about these three steps in more detail.  Below are some basic thoughts that should get you started in the right direction.  These steps are pretty simple, and they should be easy to follow.

Step 1: Getting Started

Every book has a beginning, and that’s where every aspiring author starts.  There are four basic questions you must answer:

What is your book about?

A good writer always writes about something, and you must know what that something is.  Describe your book in one sentence, and then add a couple more sentences to it.  Now, make it into an outline.  The next thing you do is write a table of contents consisting of ideas or bullets to guide you’re writing and then break down each chapter.  Keep your book simple: beginning, middle, end.  Remember… slow and steady wins the race!

What is your word count goal each day?

There are so many aspiring writers today who are juggling their lives.  Face it… you must pay the bills.  So, how do you hold a full-time job, spend time with the kids and still have time to write?  Don’t worry, you are not alone.  John Grisham was a working lawyer and a new father.  He got up two hours early each day and wrote at least one page.  One page is around 300 words, and that’s not a lot.  Set a goal for yourself each day and stick to it. It should be small and easy to attain so you can reach it consistently.

When will I work on my book each day?

Writing is much easier if you are consistent.  You must have a daily deadline for your work if you ever want to finish it.  If you want the day off, take it.  But you need to schedule it beforehand.  You must be strict with you’re writing and keep your deadlines.  Family and leisure are important, but so is you’re writing.  When you should be writing, WRITE!

Where should I write each day?

The place that you chose to write is irrelevant.  It can be a coffee shop, you’re writing desk or the park, as long as it isn’t the same place you do all of your daily activities.  Make you’re writing place a special place, so that when you are there, you are there to write.  This place should remind you that you have a goal, and you need to meet that goal.  Remember, this isn’t a place to daydream, it’s a place to write.

Step 2: Staying on track

Now, let’s get down to writing. In this phase, we are going to focus on some tips to help you complete your book:

You must set a word count goal.

Think about the end of your book. When you start to write, you need to have a total word count for your finished work. Try to think in increments of 10,000 words and divided each chapter into equal parts.  Here is a basic guideline to follow:

  • 10 thousand words – a simple pamphlet or business white paper. It would take 30 to 60 minutes to read it.
  • 20 thousand words – A manifesto or a short ebook. A good example of this would be the Communist Manifesto. At 18 thousand words, it would take you 1 to 2 hours to read.
  • 40 to 60 thousand words – A novella or a standard nonfiction book. A good example of this would be The Great Gatsby, which could be read in 3 to 4 hours.
  • 60 to 80 thousand works – A standard length novel or longer nonfiction book. An example of this would be most of Malcolm Gladwell book, read in 4 to 6 hours.
  • 80 to 100 thousand words – A long novel, or nonfiction book. A good example would be The Four-Hour Workweek, which would take 6 to 8 hours to read.
  • 100+ thousand words – A biography, academic book or an epic-length novel. Steve Jobs biography is a good example, which could be read in about 8 hours.

My first book and the easiest to write is well over 100 thousand words.  Don’t let the numbers scare you.  Write, and the rest will come to you.

You need to have weekly deadlines.

You must set a weekly goal for yourself.  If you make it a word count goal, it will be subjective.  Celebrate the progress you have achieved but be sure that you acknowledge how much work you have ahead of you.  You should always have a goal to reach for and a way to keep tabs on yourself.

Try to get some early feedback.

Nothing is worse than that stinging feeling you get when you must write your book again because you didn’t let anybody see it.  You need to have a trusted community of advisers to check your work, check your research and discern what’s worth writing.  You can use your friends, co-workers or family.  Just find somebody who you can trust to give you honest feedback and make sure you’re writing good stuff.

Step 3: Finishing

So, how will you know when your book is finished? You really won’t. These are the steps you will need to take to complete you’re writing process:

Make a commitment to ship

You need to finish that book, no matter what.  Make a deadline for your book’s debut than show it to the world.  You can release it to Amazon, send it to a publisher or whatever, just let the people see it.  Whatever you do, don’t stick the book away in a drawer.  That would be the worst thing you could do.  Trust your work and get your book out there.  You owe it to yourself.

Learn to embrace failure

As the end of your project approaches, you need to realize this is a tough process, and you will make mistakes.  Give yourself a break and understand that failing is a part of the process.  This grace you give yourself will sustain you, and give you the determination to go on.

Start another book

Usually, the first book is an embarrassment to an author.  You need to remember… you would never have learned the lessons you learned without that first book.  Go ahead, show the world your work, fail if you will then try it again.  That is the only way you will learn and improve you’re writing.  You must practice, and you must keep writing.

Writers must start somewhere.  Usually, they do it by trying to find time to write and squeeze it into their daily lives.  That’s where most writers begin, and perhaps where you are right now.  The writers that are successful keep at it, day after day without giving up.  They are doing it, and you can too.

This is why the average person doesn’t finish their book…

Millions of books go unfinished every year, and that is tragic.  These are books that could have brought beauty to the world or helped people in so many ways.  But these books were never finished, and the reason they weren’t finished is always the same.  The writer just quit.

Perhaps this is something that you have dealt with.  You have a book that has been started but never finished.  Maybe you don’t know how to finish it, or possibly your manuscript is complete, but you don’t know what to do with it.  Worst of all, you completed your book, but nobody read it or cared about it.
Ouch.

After some time and a few setbacks, I finally discovered the one thing that I had been missing, and here it is in the words of a friend of mine:

So, if you follow this process to the letter, and don’t stress out, you should be able to write and publish a great book.  Trust me, if I can do this, so can you.  Now, start writing!

If you have any comments or writing stories to tell, please leave a comment below.

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12 thoughts on “The Easy 3-Step process for writing a book

  1. Great article. I’ve been telling myself to get started writing my novel for years. I feel like lots of aspiring writers must do that. But I always tell myself I don’t have the right tools or the know how…

    Setting word count goals and deadlines seems to be a huge factor to be a successful writer given your tips. Would you recommend any specific type of software to help track these things? Or do you just use an Excel workbook and Microsoft Word?

    1. Craig, the only thing you need to write your book is you.  There are many people in this world who don’t work as well under a deadline, so skip that part.  Just write, and try to stay motivated.  Please don’t spend a lot of money on programs and processors, especially this early in your writing.  All you need is something to write with and a window to gaze out of while you are thinking.  So, just write my friend.  You can do it!

      Clay

  2. I’ve always thought that the most difficult point in writing a book is the starting point – where and how to start it?

    You see, I’m the sort of person that would rewrite the first sentence of the book about a thousand times – and end up spending a month just getting this sentence right! How would you get around this lack of confidence?

    1. Hello, Chris… I know exactly how that is!  You need to convince yourself that nobody will see this book until you are ready for them to see it.  My problem was the first page as well, but you have to keep going, even if you are not happy with it.  You can always come back later when you are more engrossed in your story, and it will be much easier to change then.  Trust me, once you get some momentum, it will all fall into place.

      Thank you for checking out my page today!

      Clay

  3. A well explained article that gives more insight in the process of writing, that I think, will help a lot of aspiring writers.

    I like how you break every process down in a simplified way, creating structure that is easy to follow. Especially the guidelines on deciding what kind of book you’re gonna write combined with the estimate number of words you should use.

    Great stuff!

  4. Such great advice and great motivation for me to write again.  I wrote a book so many years ago.  It still sits on a floppy disk somewhere.  Well over 100 000 words.  I am a Stephen King kind of writer.  I love the idea of getting up 2 hours early.  Seems it would be such a peaceful time to write.  Thank you for the encouragement.  I think its time to get back to writing.

    1. Dale, if your book is on a floppy disc, you have been waiting too long!  You really should find that book and dust it off.  Your mind is an awesome thing, and for you to write over 100,000 words and not get it published… If I can help you at all, you know where I am.  Thanks for stopping by.    

      Clay

  5. Hey there,

    books are very unique and engaging way to translate a person’s fantasy world with interesting ideas and unique perspectivers into a form of art, and honestly, it always seemed to me personally that it would be a huge challenge to do so. However, I think I have a wrong mindset when it comes to writing book and thankfully, Your article opened a whole new look on this whole thing, which made me realize that Your not suppose to look at writing a book as a challenge, but rather as a pleasure and enjoyment. After reading Your article which I found to be very informative as well as inspiring by the way, in my eyes the biggest key to succees here is to go with the flow, or like You’ve said- ”staying on the track” and keep accomplishing those goals that You’ve set in front of You. Thanks for the great article and keep up the good work! . 

    1. Hi, Evald… Writing has been such a blessing for me, and can be so therapeutic.  I love my family, but when the weekend is a long one and the kids start getting ornery, I love to escape in my writing.  Thanks for your visit, and have a great weekend!

      Clay

  6. I have never written or published a book but I have been someone who has started and failed many businesses in general and I can see a similar analogy with being a writer. 

    I think a lot of people are not willing to start because they are afraid that no one is going to read their book or that their book doesn’t have value to the lives of others. How did you overcome this self esteem issue?

    1. Hi Jessie… I have a recommendation for you… Don’t worry about who will read it and just write your book.  I was absolutely sure that my book would never sell more that 10 copies at the most.  Who could possibly be interested in my life?  But then a few months after I published it, it sold over 5000 copies just in Scotland.  

      You never know how popular your book will be until it’s published.  If you have a minute, read this article from my website: Why do I do it?  Try to write your book and enjoy the journey.  Who knows?  Maybe 5000 retired Scottish fishermen will buy your book too!  Thanks for your visit…

      Clay 

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