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!
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:
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 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.
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.