I Want to Write a Book … but Where on Earth Do I Start?
on January 8th, 2021
It could be lessons from your nana or the brick-by-brick timeline of how you grew your business. It could be about a romance of the ages or a gripping tale about overcoming insurmountable odds. Whatever it may be, you have a story to tell, and you are thinking about writing a book. Visions of unboxing your masterpiece, booking author meet-and-greets, and scheduling interviews swirl through your imagination. It’s exciting, it’s magical, but where on earth do you start?
When the daydreams fade and the work begins, the book writing process can seem lonely and daunting at first. A compelling story idea is a great place to start, but you will need a holistic approach to turn your idea into a remarkable manuscript you are proud of creating. Let’s get started.
Determine Your Book Writing Why
Why do you want to write a book? This motivation may change throughout the process, but it is good to define your why before you begin to write. Are you hoping to make lots of money from your manuscript? Are you looking to inspire readers to take some sort of action? Are you hoping to leave an immortal legacy behind with your story? It could be a combination of motivations, but it is up to you to determine the strongest motivation in your heart. Write it down and place it somewhere you can see daily.
Book writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You will get fatigued. You will get frustrated. You will get distracted. Having your why written down and placed in a prominent location will remind you of the reasons you wanted to write a book in the first place. Let that reminder be the spark that catches your excitement and passion again when things feel bleak.
Develop Your Book Writing Vision and Outline
A book writing vision is the thirty-thousand-foot view of your story. Your why will play a big role in your vision. This is the time to determine who your target reader is and what you hope the reader takes away as they turn the final page of your book.
Your vision is your guiding light as you write your book. Consider the point of view that is best suited for your narrative. Will you tell your story in first person? Are you planning on addressing readers throughout in second person? Or will this book be in third person omniscient, where your narrator is not a character in your story? Once you’ve made a point-of-view decision, you may want to define the tone of your book. Will it be formal or informal and conversational? Choosing these narrative elements will help to focus your book writing process.
Next you will want to determine the major conflict(s) of your story. A key storytelling element is a good old fashion conflict. Most stories have multiple conflicts leading to a climax. Write down the major conflicts in your story as part of your book writing vision.
With vision in hand, you can now begin your outline. Each writer has their own unique outlining methodology. Some writers begin on page one and stop at “the end,” only to heavily edit the first draft once everything is laid out on the page. Other writers choose to outline chapter by chapter before the book writing begins. It all comes down to how much structure you will need to accomplish your book writing goals.
Set Book Writing Milestones
Writers are notorious for “shiny object syndrome.” Once the initial excitement wanes, a writer may be drawn to an entirely new project before finishing the one at hand. A great way to avoid this book writing detour is to set reasonable milestones for your writing journey. You could write a chapter every two weeks or a chapter a month—whatever works best for your schedule. Some writers choose to set milestones by wordcount instead of by chapter. No matter what benchmarks you choose, milestones will help you track your progress and keep you on the path to completing your first draft.
If you miss a milestone, don’t give up. Just recalibrate and keep on writing. Life happens, but don’t let it stop you from writing your book. You can also consider bringing in an accountability partner. Have a friend or hire an editor to read your chapters upon completion. Set due dates for each chapter to keep you on schedule.
Consider Hiring a Book Writing Coach
A book writing coach is an author mentor, manuscript doctor, and jargon jedi all rolled into one. If you hire a book writing coach, you can expect a professional editor to guide you through the book writing process. He or she will help you formulate your vision, solidify your why, and help you set milestones along the way. Book writing coaches are phenomenal cheerleaders who can either hold your hand tightly or provide macrolevel advice, depending on your individual needs.
Book writing coaches make excellent accountability partners. Many coaches are experts in the industry and can provide valuable insights on the book publishing and book marketing processes as well. Hiring a book writing coach is a surefire way to make sure you do not undergo the book writing journey alone.
Eradicate Book Writing Impostor Syndrome
There is going to be a time during your book writing journey where you are going do doubt yourself. Maybe not even yourself, but your story. You are going to wonder, “Why would anyone read this?” Or you are going to compare yourself to bestselling authors, and impostor syndrome will slowly creep in. Don’t let it. It is said that oftentimes the idea for a book finds the person, not that the person finds the idea. That means your book idea came to you and expects you to bring it to fruition. You can do this! You are meant to write your story. You have what it takes.